Updated at the bottom with the D.A.'s findings.
Richard Allan Munnecke, the ex-Rose Parade director suspected by sheriff's investigators of murdering a Rose Parade volunteer almost a decade ago, won't be prosecuted for the crime, says the L.A. County District Attorney's office. (At least for now.)
“A case was reviewed for filing,” says D.A. spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales. But in the end, there was “insufficient evidence” that Munnecke was the killer.
Homicide detectives said they believed Munnecke, now 71, strangled 59-year-old Donna Kelly, his alleged mistress, to death in 2004…
… then dumped her body in the trunk of her own car.
In response to the D.A.'s dropping of charges, the department reportedly says Munnecke remains a person of interest. (After all the work that's gone into the case, L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca has to be fuming right now.)
His arrest this week — in light of new DNA evidence — came as a huge shock to the San Gabriel Valley community.
The worst press that Pasadena's annual Rose Parade has gotten, up to now, is maybe when Occupy Wall Street decried its corporate backers. (But really, who wasn't decried by Occupy?) And the worst press that former Rose Parade director and serial Good Samaritan Richard Allan Munnecke had gotten was that, uh, he donated too much blood.
That is, until Wednesday, when Munnecke was arrested in connection to one of the creepiest cold cases ever to plague L.A. County's sleepy northeast circle (Pasadena, Alhambra, etc.).
Kelly's decomposed corpse was discovered by her daughter, Diana, in the worst way imaginable. She had been missing for three weeks when her daughter took Kelly's car for a drive through Eaton Canyon. After noticing a foul smell coming from the trunk, the young woman pulled over to investigate — and found herself staring at her dead mom.
Recent federal grants for DNA testing reportedly led to this break in the cold case. Detective Beth Smith told the Pasadena Star-News that “DNA found on Kelly's body was recently discovered to be that of Munnecke.” And the Murcury-News writes that “a year and a half ago, [investigators got] a cheek swab from Allan.”
The suspect has been described as “the straightest guy in the San Gabriel Valley.” From a church newsletter on he and his wife Gail:
Allan and Gail are the kind of Christians that might be considered the beating heart of the Church, more specifically, San Marino Community Church. Their history of service to both church and community reflects their mutual conviction that serving God is serving His creation. …
Whether singing in her beloved choir, writing a lesson book for “small group worship” based on The Ten Commandments, or planning a “Dinner for 7 or 8”, Gail gratefully attends to God's work. And Allan, whether he's at the helm of a barbecue grill on Kick Off Sunday, or serving Communion, finds peace and fulfillment in the knowledge that he and Gail are serving the Lord together.
Guess he can go back to serving the Lord now.
Update: The D.A. has provided us its declination in full.