SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- For 40 years, the Pham family didn't have answers for the murder of their 5-year-old daughter Anne. She disappeared one morning in Jan. of 1982.
"Back in 1982, we didn’t have any leads, police didn’t know where to look, and there were no suspects,” said Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni.
One morning Anne was walking to her kindergarten class at Highland Elementary School but never made it. She was found dead at the former Fort Ord just two days after her disappearance.
“This family has gone so long without any answers about what happened to Annie. They just knew it happened," said Pacioni. "In the particular case, we knew that there was evidence in the Seaside Police Department and that we could pull DNA from. We started with a type of evidence that has never been used before in court, and it identified a sequence of DNA that we were able to connect to Mr. Lanoue."
Robert John Lanoue, 70, of Reno, Nevada, is being held in custody in Nevada and is awaiting extradition to California. He was charged with the murder of Anne Pham.
“We are thrilled that we have the suspect identified, we have charged him as the defendant, and we intend to prosecute the case fully," said Pacioni.
She added that Lanoue was an army sergeant stationed at Fort Ord when he allegedly murdered Anne. He is also a convicted child molester out on parole, according to Pacioni.
In 2010 the Monterey County District Attorney's Office created the cold case task force to provide families with closure using new DNA sequencing.
“Our District Attorney, when she started her cold case task force, it's been nothing but a blessing for us here in Seaside," said Interim Seaside Police Chief Nick Borges.
"Today is one of the happiest days in my professional career," said Borges. "A lot of people in the department ask me why I have this poster? I said I have this because this will be on display when we solve the case. I was overly optimistic, but in this case, we were correct."
Borges hopes Anne's family can heal from this and move forward after getting answers.
There are over 400 cold cases still unsolved in Monterey County, according to Pacioni. If you would like us to help, contact us.