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After 8 Years, Arrest Made in Teen's Death : Investigation: DNA links convicted rapist to the brutal murder of Placentia 14-year-old Wendy Osborn, who was abducted en route to school.

July 30, 1995|LILY DIZON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An investigation into the slaying of a Placentia girl that baffled law enforcement officials for eight years came to an end this week when authorities charged a convicted rapist in connection with her death.

Raymond J. Barthlett, 34, was arrested Friday after DNA evidence linked him to the slaying of 14-year-old Wendy Osborn. She was abducted Jan. 20, 1987, while walking to school and was later raped and killed.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives served an arrest warrant on Barthlett at a state prison in Soledad where he has been serving a 20-year term for an unrelated kidnaping and rape case in 1988, Sgt. Darryl Heller said.

Barthlett was transferred to the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino County, where he is being held without bail. He is charged with murder, kidnaping, rape and sodomy, Heller said.

When Jack Osborn, the victim's father, heard the news of the suspect's imminent arrest this week, he said he could only sigh in relief. Too much time had passed for him to immediately feel any other emotions, Osborn said Saturday from his home in Greenwood in Northern California.

"Over the years, we have seen that many people have been questioned as suspects, and every time a new event occurred . . . we underwent a lot of emotions," said Osborn, 50. "Now, there's none of that excitement and dread and anticipation. Just a sense of closure. A sense of peace."

Osborn said he is uncertain if he would attend Barthlett's trial. However, he wants the chance to face the man accused of killing his daughter, he said.

"Our memories of our daughter are still very emotional at times," Osborn said. "We have a lot of excellent memories of the good times during her 14 years with us and we still laugh at the things she did that were funny. That is what we have chosen to think about, not the horrible events that took her away from us."

Wendy was raped, tortured and strangled, police said. Her clothed body was found nearly two weeks later by horseback riders in the San Bernardino County area of the Chino Hills.

After her disappearance, scores of detectives from the Placentia Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's department fanned the area where she was last seen, distributed flyers and questioned residents and passersby. Over the years, several suspects were questioned and detained in connection with the case.

But last December, detectives received a break when a DNA sample taken from Barthlett matched semen retrieved from Wendy, authorities said.

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