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Auburn Woman Arrested In 1970 Death Of 4-Year-Old Daughter

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AUBURN (CBS13) — A 66-year-old Grass Valley woman was arrested Thursday night and charged with killing her 4-year-old daughter nearly 42 years ago.

patricia lee thomas Auburn Woman Arrested In 1970 Death Of 4 Year Old Daughter

Patricia Lee Thomas

Patricia Lee Thomas, also known as Patricia Lee Howell, was charged with murder and is being held without bail in the Placer County Jail. She’s scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Detectives from the Auburn Police Department and investigators with the Placer County District Attorney’s Office Cold Case unit made the arrest after obtaining new information in the death, which occurred May 25, 1970, in Auburn. It was initially reported as a bathtub drowning.

The daughter’s name was Cynthia Louise Howell and the incident took place at 14019 Wheeler Acres Road in Grass Valley, according to court records.

Investigators didn’t disclose what new information they received or how they received it.

“This horrendous criminal act occurred 42 years ago. The collaborative investigation between the two agencies was instrumental in this arrest,” said Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn in a press release announcing the arrest on Friday.

Ruffcorn declined to offer more details when interviewed by CBS13, citing the ongoing investigation, but he did say the arrest was “pleasing” after so long, but added that “we do have a victim that the investigation didn’t do justice to for 42 years.”

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