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Michigan Man Confesses to 1983 Laguna Slaying

June 10, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A Michigan man has been arrested in the 1983 bludgeoning death of a guest at a Laguna Beach motel after investigators matched his DNA with samples found at the scene, authorities said Wednesday.

When confronted by Laguna Beach police investigators, James Paul Snider, 48, confessed to killing Ronald Jay Murphy, a 22-year-old oilfield worker from Santa Maria, on Dec. 11, 1983, at a motel on North Coast Highway, officials said.

They said Snider became a suspect after they submitted samples of DNA lifted from beer bottles and cigarette butts at the motel for analysis to the Orange County Sheriff's Department's Crime Lab. The samples were sent to the FBI for entry into the nationwide DNA database, which -- aided by new technologies -- recently indicated that some of them matched Snider's DNA. Snider is on parole for a bank robbery in Holland, Mich.

He was taken into custody at the Ottaway County Jail, and on Tuesday, a judge issued a no-bail warrant against him.

Snider has waived extradition proceedings, authorities said, and will be returned to Southern California for trial.

The motive for Murphy's slaying -- thought to have been caused by a blow to the head, possibly by a toilet tank lid -- is under investigation, police said.

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