California: The Fresno Bee, Monday, August 23, 1999

Billboard spotlights reward in 1997 case

$50,000 is offered in Born slaying

By Charles Mcarthy
The Fresno Bee

(Published August 23, 1999)

MADERA—The mother of a Clovis woman found dead two years ago in Madera County hopes that a $50,000 reward will help to solve her daughter's murder.

Gloria Barnes said she'd been pushing for justice ever since her daughter, 20-year-old Andrea Mercedes Born, was found July 4, 1997, fatally shot and her body burned, near Highway 99 and Avenue 7 in Madera County.

"She was a very friendly, beautiful girl," Barnes said from her home in Santa Cruz.

Born's family is paying half of the cost to advertise the reward on a billboard scheduled to be set up Sept. 5 beside Freeway 99, Barnes said. The billboard will ask anyone with information about Born's killing to contact the Madera County Sheriff's Department at 675-7770.

The other half of the $1,200 billboard will be paid for by Citizens Against Homicide, a Bay Area-based group that Barnes said is made up of "people who have had relatives killed and have had problems getting their cases closed."

Anderson and the victim's family requested and got the $50,000 reward money from Gov. Davis last month.

"We're convinced somebody knows something about it," Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said. More than one person was involved in the slaying, Anderson believes.

"It's reward a good motivator for them to come forward," Anderson said. "For some reason or the other, somebody decided that she shouldn't be on the Earth anymore."

Born moved to Fresno from Santa Cruz to attend California State University, Fresno, her mother said.

Born was last seen about 5 p.m. July 4, 1997, at her apartment near Ashlan and Peach avenues. Friends told police she was supposed to have attended a barbecue. A friend saw Born leaving her apartment with the man she'd been dating for 18 months, according to previous Bee reports.

Later that night, two California Highway Patrol officers saw a fire just after they crossed the San Joaquin River northbound on Highway 99. They thought it was another stolen car, stripped, dumped and torched.

But this time, it was the body of a woman. She'd apparently been shot in the head and dumped in the dark orchard near Avenue 7 and Road 33. Flammable liquid had been poured over the body, and someone had set it ablaze.

Born was identified through dental records. An autopsy revealed that she'd been shot elsewhere and was dead when her body was burned.

Anderson and Madera County sheriff's detective Terry Ginder said they suspect Born was killed somewhere in Fresno County.

Ginder said the boyfriend had been questioned and released shortly after Born was identified.

The boyfriend told investigators that he'd dropped Born off at her apartment that night and that was the last he saw of her, Ginder said.

"They were at the barbecue," Ginder said. Ginder described the barbecue as "a small gathering" and said those in attendance were interviewed by officers.

Since the reward was announced in July, there have been no tips in the Born case, Ginder said.

Anderson said the billboard will help get the reward notice out to the "circle of people around her Born."

The billboard will be put up beside Freeway 99 between Clinton and Ashlan avenues.

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