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Suspects caught in IE cold case murders

March 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Bernardino County investigators have chalked up two victories, as they renew their efforts to solve "cold cases," many of them murders that have been on the books for decades. The case was cold for nearly 24 years and investigators were stumped. Just who killed Rita Cobb? It's a question that's haunted the victim's son-in-law ever since.

Until this weekend, when sheriff's deputies arrested John Yablonsky and charged him with the murder.

"It's a relief," said Daryl Kraemer, the Cobb's son-in-law. "You look at him, and I can't wait to see the day that I see him personally in court."

Daryl Kraemer said he found his mother-in-law's body in one of the bedrooms at a Lucerne Valley home back in 1985. She was nude, a metal coat-hanger wrapped around her neck.

"It's been a long 24 years," said Kraemer. "You live with this every day, wondering who ... the first year of my life after that it was, you walk around and everybody is a suspect, and in a little town where it happened, it's not that many people, in the kind of town it was. I just thought everybody did it."

The break came in October, when Yablonsky was arrested by Long Beach Police on an unrelated charge. Investigators sampled his DNA and put it into a national database. Then the computer took over and matched the sample to DNA found on Cobb's body 24 years before. Police say Yablonsky was a renter who occupied a studio behind the victim's home.

The district attorney's cold case team made the announcement Monday morning, along with news of a break in another cold case.

Seventy-year old Paul Johnson was arrested for killing transient John Eller back in 1987.

"My word to those out there that commit these crimes: You can try and hide, but eventually we're going to catch you, and we're going to continue to make this a priority in the district attorney's office, along with my sheriff, Rod Hoops," said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos.

While this is certainly a victory for law enforcement, there's still a long way to go. The cold case team has now solved 10 such cases, but more than 600 remain unsolved.