California: Valley Press,
San Lorenzo Valley, Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Investigation into murder of former SLV resident lagging
By Andrea Strickley, staff writer
Andrea Born was found murdered in an
orchard near Fresno last July 4.
It was July 4, 1997 that former Brookdale resident Andrea Mercedes Born, or "Annie" to those who knew her, was shot several times at point-blank range, her body dumped and set afire in a field outside of Fresno.
One year later, Ed Born-Long, Born's father, and Gloria Barnes, her mother, know little more about their daughter's murder than the day they received the news.
"I'm at my wit's end," said Barnes, who lives in Brookdale, frustrated at what she and Born-Long feel is a lack of initiative on the part of law enforcement officials to complete the investigation.
Barnes and Born-Long do know that the last time anyone saw Born was early evening July 4, as she left her apartment with a man she had dated for a year-and-a-half—with the expectation they would see her again at a Fourth of July barbecue later that night.
But at 11:30 p.m. that night, two California Highway Patrol officers found Born's body ablaze in an almond orchard off Highway 99.
Born was later identified through dental records after a friend reported her missing.
Beyond those details, Born's parents know little of the events leading up to her death, and for now must live with the outrage and frustration of knowing whoever killed her has not been made to face the enormous pain her loss has caused.
Their frustration is tempered by a strong suspicion about who the killer might be.
"What I know and what I suspect are two different things," said Born-Long, who lives in Texas.
Born-Long said there is a "mountain of circumstantial evidence" in the case against an acquaintance of Born's, including a bare footprint at the location her body was dumped. Born-Long said he suspects more than one person was involved in the murder.
Authorities have told Born-Long and Barnes there is not yet enough evidence to prosecute a suspect.
"My feeling is that they need some witnesses," Barnes said.
Sergeant Larry Elmore of the Madera County Sheriff's Department, which had been investigating the murder, said the case has now been turned over to the [California] Department of Justice for DNA testing.
Elmore did not offer any new details about the investigation, but said a prosecution in the case is "long overdue."
Repeated calls from The Valley Press to the Madera County District Attorney's office for this story were not returned.
To help further the investigation, Born-Long has made a plea to those who knew Born to contact Madera County District Attorney Ernie LiCalsi, and the California Attorney General to urge that the case be solved.
"Somebody needs to shake their cage," Born-Long said.
Both he and Barnes said they hope that putting pressure on authorities may help them get some answers into the murder of their daughter, who was a student at Fresno State at the time of her death.
Born-Long said his daughter received good grades, worked hard at a Food-For-Less to support her own educaton, and was in no way involved in "the darker side of life."
He remembers with great fondness Born's first words: "I did it!" spoken upon putting together a toy on the living room floor.
He said it was not long after that she proclaimed "I Annie"—the name she was known as from that day on.
Before going to study liberal arts at Fresno, Born was a prominent student at San Lorenzo Valley High School. She was a member of the SLV High Key Club, and in her junior year was chosen to represent SLV at the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Statewide Conference in Belmont.
She was also active in community theater, playing lead roles in "Peter Pan" and "Once Upon a Mattress."
In the agonizing months following her death, Born's parents have had their pain lifted a little by support from friends and the many tributes paid to Born's life.
"I do feel that people have been wonderfully kind," Barnes said.
Born-Long's wife, Chris, who grew close to Born during her many visits to Texas, has established a web site in her memory.
Featured on the site are pictures of and anecdotes about Born from throughout her life, and descriptions of the many ways her life has been honored, including the dedication in Born's name of the patio and gardens of Austin's Center for Battered Women.
But always Born-Long and Barnes' thoughts turn to finding Born's killer, and what is left of their energy they'll continue to use to push the investigation.
"To have them (law enforcement) act like they don't even care—that's the worst part," Barnes said.
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