New DNA technology helps solve 2 decades-old murder cases

MARTINEZ, Calif. -- In Contra Costa County, Calif., two cold cases dating back more than two decades are now believed solved thanks to new DNA technology.

William Huff would've been released from Solano County Jail Tuesday, but now he's at a Martinez, Calif., facility on murder charges, thanks to a newly formed cold case unit in Contra Costa County.

Huff has a long rap sheet, most recently serving time for car theft. Now, he faces murder charges for the first time in his life.

Investigators say he raped and strangled two women. The first case happened nearly 30 years ago in 1987 at Tilden Regional Park where Deanna Lynn, 21, was found. There was DNA evidence that linked Huff to her murder, but not enough to charge him.

The second murder took place in 1993, on Emerick Avenue in San Pablo. Mueylin Saechao was found in her boyfriend's back yard, also raped and strangled.

Thanks to advancements in DNA technology, Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office investigators were able to arrest Huff with the help of the San Pablo Police Department and East Bay Regional Park District police.

"It's gotten quicker, it's gotten more accurate and so its allowed us to do more with cases, although some people still seem to think you know if we did DNA testing back then there's nothing more we can do and that's not really true. We can do it with smaller samples, we can do a lot of different things, that's changed," Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson said.

Officials say DNA evidence pointed to Huff, but it was also extensive in-person interviews with him that led to the new charges.

"It is very gratifying because I take a look when I look at these cold cases. I'm seeing pictures of the victims when they were alive, and when you look at it you feel for them because you see the crime scene pictures and after all the brutality that they've suffered. And so to actually find the guy that did it is very rewarding," Director of Forensic Services Paul Holes said.

Officials say Huff could be linked to more crimes and are asking law enforcement agencies to take another look at their unsolved cases.
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