Calif. Nurse Was Found Dead Along Hiking Trail in 1995, and Suspect Is Charged with Rape, Murder

James Watkins, now 42, was 17 when he allegedly killed Christine Susan Munro

Christine Susan Munro
Christine Susan Munro. Photo: Redding Police Department

Authorities in California investigating the 1995 slaying of a 37-year-old nurse and mother-of-four say they've closed the cold case thanks to well-preserved DNA evidence and recent scientific advances.

At a press conference on Friday, Redding Police and the Shasta County District Attorney's Office announced that 42-year-old Texas man James Watkins has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of Christine Susan Munro, whose body was found along the Sacramento River Trail more than 25 years ago.

Munro was out for a run along the trail when she was allegedly ambushed by Watkins, who was 17 at the time.

Her body was found on June 24, 1995.

Christine Susan Munro
Christine Susan Munro. Redding Police Department

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said Friday that Watkins was charged in connection with Munro's death last month.

The charges against him include enhancements for lying in wait, murder while in commission of a kidnapping and murder while in the commission of or purposes for rape.

The case has been filed in juvenile court, due to Watkins' age at the time of his alleged crime, but will likely be moved to adult court — a process that could take months.

Prosecutors also can not pursue the death penalty, because Watkins was 17 when the murder occurred.

Watkins has yet to enter pleas to the charges against him, and will appear in court later this week for the first hearing in his case.

James Watkins
James Watkins. Redding Police Department

The alleged killer has been serving a 14-year sentence for robbery in a state prison in Texas, police said Friday.

Investigator Rusty Bishop started reexamining the evidence in the Munro case late last year, officials said Friday.

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Fingernail scrapings taken from Munro were submitted to the Department of Justice for fresh analysis, and in June, there was a match to Watkins' DNA, prosecutors allege.

Watkins was interviewed in August, and prosecutors moved to have him extradited to California.

A different man came forward in 1997 claiming he was Munro's killer, but investigators said he was fabricating the confession and ruled him out as a suspect.

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