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Sheriff's office reopening 1975 Santa Barbara homicide case

Paul Ornelas.jpg
Posted at 5:17 PM, Apr 06, 2021

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is reopening a more than 45-year-old cold case.

On June 21, 1975, the body of 16-year-old Paul Ornelas was found near the railroad tracks at the Turnpike Road overpass in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara.

Sheriff's officials say his death was quickly ruled a homicide but no suspects were ever arrested.

Now, citing advancements in DNA technology and forensics processing methods, sheriff's investigators are taking another look at the case.

Sheriff's officials say detectives will be using the ANDE Rapid DNA instrument, which was utilized during the Conception boat fire incident in 2019 to quickly identify the victims.

ANDE Machine.jpg
A technician utilizes the ANDE Rapid DNA machine.

They say the same technology has been used to process minute levels of biological evidence left behind at crime scenes, and they hope a review of preserved evidence will generate new leads in the case.