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Former Rose Parade director won't face murder charges

February 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Former Tournament of Roses director Richard Munnecke will not face charges in the 2004 cold case murder of a parade volunteer.

Munnecke was arrested last week in connection with the killing of 59-year-old Donna Lee Kelly, who went missing for three weeks in 2004. Investigators eventually found her body stuffed in the trunk her vehicle, but for eight years, her murder has been a cold case.

Recently, investigators took a fresh look at the case thanks to new DNA testing. In a charge evaluation sheet, investigators said they found Munnecke's DNA on Kelly's body. But that was the only evidence connecting him to the crime, so they are not pressing murder charges.

The charge evaluation form did say there are other possible suspects in the case, but it did not specify who.

Authorities now believe Kelly, a Tournament of Roses volunteer, was having an affair with Munnecke when they worked on parades together, a charge Munnecke denies.

Pasadena Rotary Club president Kenneth Hill has known Munnecke for 50 years. He was stunned when his friend was arrested.

"He's an outgoing nice person always involved in community activities," said Hill. "It didn't seem anything like him, it was not his personality."

In response to the incident, the Tournament of Roses' interim director provided this statement:

"This situation is a tragedy to all who have been affected. We are very respectful of the process and the investigation that is in the hands of the authorities."

Munnecke's friends are worried about his legacy going forward.

"I'm sure it's been tarnished, how could it not be? I know a lot of people have faith in him and I'm sure he can overcome this," Hill said.