Escondido Police Make Arrest in Cold Case Homicide from 1986

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On the morning of November 13, 1986 75-year-old Richard Finney was found stabbed to death inside of his apartment at 326 E. Mission Ave. in Escondido. Escondido police detectives noted that several items belonging to Mr. Finney had been stolen from the apartment. Detectives collected evidence which included fingerprints and blood evidence. However, a suspect was never identified.

The case was re-opened in 2007 by Escondido Police Cold Case Homicide Investigators Chuck Gaylor and Norman Wight. Technological advances, not available in 1986, allowed Investigators Gaylor and Wight to have further testing completed on the previously collected blood evidence. The testing revealed the DNA profile of a potential suspect. That profile was compared with known DNA profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (commonly known as CODIS), but did not match any of those in the database.

In 2016, Escondido Police Department Forensic Fingerprint Expert Cassaundra Barnes used new technology that allowed for a better quality photograph of the fingerprint collected from Mr. Finney’s apartment. The higher quality photograph, in combination with advances in fingerprint comparison databases, led to the identification of a suspect, Nathan Eugene Mathis (62-year-old resident of Ontario, CA). Further investigative efforts were conducted, which included testing Mr. Mathis’ DNA profile against the previously collected unknown DNA profile. San Diego County Sheriff’s Crime Lab personnel compared the two DNA profiles and determined that Mathis’ DNA profile matched the DNA profile collected from Mr. Finney’s apartment in 1986.

Nathan Mathis was located and arrested at his residence in Ontario, CA. on April 18, 2018. Mathis was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on one count of murder (P.C. 187 (a), where he is being held on a $3,000,000.00 bail.

Mr. Finney’s grandchildren were notified of the arrest. Mr. Finney’s granddaughter Catherine Turi Hollis said, “It means everything to us that you continually worked the case for 32 years. I don’t know how to repay someone for their efforts other than I will never forget what you did for our family.”

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