California: The Fresno Bee, Monday, September 27, 1999

BillboardMurdered woman's mother will make public appeal

She'll stand next to a billboard that offers a $50,000 reward.

By Charles Mcarthy
The Fresno Bee

MADERA—The mother of a Clovis woman found murdered in 1997 near Freeway 99 and Avenue 7 plans a personal appeal Tuesday next to a billboard offering $50,000 for information pointing to the killer.

Gloria Barnes of Santa Cruz said she will stand with Madera County Sheriff John Anderson and a representative of Gov. Davis under the reward billboard next to northbound Freeway 99 south of Ashlan Avenue.

On the billboard is the 1994 high school graduation picture of Andrea Mercedes Born, who was 20 years old when California Highway Patrol officers found her body dumped in a dark orchard just north of the San Joaquin River. She had been shot in the head.

Flammable liquid had been poured over the body, and someone had set it ablaze.

After he took over as Madera County sheriff in January, Anderson and the victim's family asked the Governor's Office for help in solving the 2-year-old mystery. Investigators had run out of leads, Anderson said. Investigators believe Born was killed in Fresno County.

While the state posted the $50,000 reward money, the family shared the cost of the $1,200 billboard with a Bay Area group called Citizens Against Homicide, made up of people whose relatives are the victims of unsolved murders.

"It's horrible," Barnes said about her daughter's killer remaining free. "It's hard enough with Annie being gone. Then to have nothing happen, I think it interferes with the grieving process."

The continued push to find her daughter's killer isn't a matter of revenge, Barnes said: "It's about making our world safe for our children. Annie had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, too. Somebody decided that they had the right to take that away, and they don't."

Born, a California State University, Fresno, student, was last seen about 5 p.m. July 4, 1997, at her apartment near Ashlan and Peach avenues.

Friends told investigators that Born was supposed to have attended a barbecue. A friend saw her leaving her apartment with her boyfriend of 18 months, who was questioned and released after Born's body was identified.

He said he dropped Born off at her apartment after the barbecue. Other friends said she had attended the party.

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