Suspect Identified, Arrested in 1987 Cold Case Murder of Jacqueline Henry
Above: Portrait of Jacqueline Henry and her son
(Photos courtesy of Fresno Police Department)
Fresno police have announced the identification and arrest of a primary suspect in the cold case murder of a young mother in 1987.
According to a press release by the Fresno Police Department, DNA evidence has identified 71-year-old Carl Eugene Sears as the primary suspect in the fatal stabbing of Jacqueline Denise Henry. Jacqueline was 22 years old with an infant son at the time of her death, police said.
Jacqueline’s body was found in an open field at the corner of Fig and Church Avenues on the afternoon of February 24, 1987. She had been reported missing three days earlier. Homicide detectives assigned to the case determined that she had been killed several days earlier in the parking lot of the church, then dragged to the open field where she was left.
No witnesses were located, nor a suspect identified, and the case eventually went cold.
In 2009, a detective assigned to the Cold Case Unit reopened the case, reviewing several articles of evidence which had been collected from the scene, as well as a later autopsy. The detective submitted the evidence to the California DOJ Regional Laboratory.
In February of last year, the CAL-DNA data bank returned a possible match: Carl Eugene Sears. Detectives began working with the District Attorney’s Office, and ultimately secured an arrest warrant for Sears, who was currently a registered sex offender on parole.
On Friday, July 21, Sears was located and taken into custody and booked at the Fresno County jail on suspicion of murder. It was unclear at press time whether Sears had retained an attorney.
According to Project: Cold Case, California recorded 131,113 homicides between 1965 and 2021. In that time frame, approximately 62% of those cases have been cleared, leaving approximately 49,792 as-yet unsolved murders as of 2021.