Officials ID'd suspect in Monica Leech's murder by making DNA profile from item left at crime scene

Anabel Munoz Image
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Officials ID'd suspect in Monica Leech's murder by making DNA profile
Officials identified the suspect in the1997 murder of Monica Leech after making a DNA profile from an item left at the crime scene.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- Officials were able to identify the man suspected of murdering Monica Leech more than 25 years after the incident thanks to a DNA profile analyzed by the forensics team in Ventura County.

At a news conference Tuesday, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said the Ventura County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab was able to identify 55-year-old Kevin Ray James of San Bernardino as the alleged killer after analyzing DNA found on an item left by the suspect at the crime scene.

"We have outstanding forensic scientists in the Ventura County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab, one of whom determined that we were able to go ahead and isolate a DNA profile," said Nasarenko. "Through that isolation, she was able to go ahead and achieve an eventual match."

Nasarenko also noted that the item left by the suspect was not a weapon, and he did not detail how his office was able to identify James as the alleged killer.

"We were able to match the DNA located at the crime scene eventually, with the suspect, but the methodology for doing so will have to come out in court through evidence," said Nasarenko.

The arrest of James comes as a result of a reopening of Leech's case in 2021. Shortly after the case reopened, ABC7 produced a documentary on the cold case, the advancements in forensic technology and the socioeconomic factors at play.

Leech was working as a bank teller at a bank in Thousand Oaks when it was robbed by two men dressed as construction workers. She was shot in the back of the head as one of the men was handcuffing her.

ABC7 spoke with her widower Floyd Leech for the documentary, and he provided a statement after the news conference today.

"I want to thank the investigators, the PD, the DA's office and I'm just praying for a conviction," Floyd Leech said.

James had his first court appearance on Monday and remains in custody without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for April 13.