04/21/06 06-041

04/21/06 06-041


April 21, 2006

Subject:     Arrest Through DNA Analysis In 33-Year-Old Homicide Case

DNA analysis led to the arrest today, April 21, of a suspect in a 33-year-old homicide case. John Puckett, who was 38 years old at the time of the murder, was taken into custody early this morning on an arrest warrant in Stockton, California.  Members of the San Francisco Police Department Special Investigations Division, with the assistance of the Stockton Police Department, made the arrest.  Puckett, now 71, is the suspect in the rape and murder of a 25-year-old University of California Hospital nurse, Diana Sylvester, that occurred on December 22, 1972 on the 1200 block of 6th Avenue.


Due to the technological advancements in DNA analysis, evidence at the scene ultimately led to the identification of Puckett.  The  Forensic Biology Section of the SFPD Forensic Services Division SFPD created a DNA profile, which was sent to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) for a search, resulting in a match.  Analysis of older, unsolved cases was made possible through funding by the California Department of Justice under the DNA Cold Hit Grant.


A similar “cold case,” the 1968 rape and murder of Linda Harmon, was solved through DNA evidence analysis in December, 2003.  In that case, the suspect, William Speer, now 63, was found guilty in November, 2005 of first-degree murder.


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