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Man Arrested in 1988 Slaying of His Wife

Old DNA leads to former Torrance resident, who had reported her missing.

June 25, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

A former Torrance man who reported his wife missing 15 years ago was arrested at his home in Washington state and held on suspicion of her murder Tuesday after investigators examined old DNA evidence and heard from new witnesses.

Cordis James Brooks, 48, of Springdale, Wash., was arrested on his front lawn and ordered held on $1 million bail in connection with the March 9, 1988, disappearance of his second wife, Joan Sharon Brooks. She was 27 and the mother of a 13-month-old daughter.

Torrance police, who investigated the case with the Los Angeles County district attorney's cold case unit, recently searched Brooks' former Torrance home near Western Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard, pulling up carpeting and looking for evidence beneath it.

Although Joan Brooks' body has never been found, police said, a small bloodstain in her car provided DNA evidence. That car, along with her husband's truck and the family home, had been searched after her disappearance.

Before his wife's disappearance, Brooks had a history of domestic assault, according to Torrance Police Lt. Patrick A. Shortall. Brooks reported his wife missing three days after she disappeared and told police that they had been arguing. Police suspected Brooks but lacked sufficient evidence to charge him with murder, Shortall said.

Brooks, who is married to his fourth wife, is scheduled to appear in court in Washington later this week for extradition hearings. He could be returned to California for arraignment in days if he chooses not to fight extradition, police said. If he does fight it, it could take up to several weeks.

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