Nearly 30 years after the brutal slaying of a Canadian nurse in her California apartment, cold case detectives in Los Angeles have charged a 57-year-old engineer from Orange County -- a man the woman had briefly dated -- with her August 1979 murder.
Alberta-born Lynne Knight, a 28-year-old former beauty queen from Stratford, had so impressed the California hospital where she was working at the time of her death that she'd been asked to return to Canada to recruit more nurses.
But Knight's planned trip to Toronto -- and then home to Stratford to serve as maid of honour at her sister's wedding -- never happened.
Los Angeles police called the family that Aug. 30 with news of her death -- stabbed 15 times and strangled with a homemade garrote, evidence of an enraged and sadistic attacker.
An investigation at the time yielded no clear suspect. Only now, almost three decades since the killing and after a cold case squad reopened the probe into Knight's death a few years ago, has an arrest been made.
Douglas Gordon Bradford, an engineering student in 1979 who had dated Knight before they broke up that summer, was to be formally charged Thursday with one count of murder and an additional charge of using a deadly weapon.
Bradford was released Thursday after posting bail of just over US$1 million, said Jane Robison, press secretary with the L.A. County District Attorney's Office. Bradford is due again in court on June 18.
In a statement released Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney John Lewin credited "old-fashioned police work" by a cold case unit in Torrance, the Los Angeles suburb where Knight had lived, for leading to the arrest.
Knight's father, Clair, now retired and living in Sauble Beach told Canwest News Service on Thursday that news of Bradford's arrest was bittersweet: "It's great," he said, "but it opens up old wounds. We've been wanting this, and finally it's happened, after 30 years."
He has mixed feelings, too, that his wife, Lillian, didn't live to see this day. She died in 2005.
"I know she would have loved to have seen justice done -- it was such a cruel and terrible thing," said Clair Knight. "It had bothered her for years. But by this time, almost 30 years, you kind of get over it. And now it's back in your face again."
He credited his wife and daughter Donna Wigmore -- the younger sister whose wedding Lynne Knight was to attend in 1979 -- with helping to keep the investigation alive.
Wigmore, now living in the Toronto area, has "really been pushing this, done a lot of work to keep the police on it," he said.
"She just kept sending them e-mails, and asking what's happening on the case. She sent a lot of information and pictures to help."
Wigmore, a registered nurse in Markham said: "It's a dream come true for the truth to finally come out, if this is the individual. It's been a long time coming, and to finally get to this point is nothing short of a miracle."
Clair Knight said he recalled Bradford from the time his eldest daughter was murdered.
"They had a number of people they'd interviewed, but this one stood out," he recalled. "The attitude he had was pretty bad at the time. He was the only one who never contacted us, never sent us a card. When we were out there, the rest of her friends and boyfriends came to visit us, but he never sent a card, never called -- nothing."
"At that time, Ontario wasn't hiring any nurses, and that was one of the jobs she could get."
Lynne Knight ended up working with premature babies at Little Company of Mary Hospital.