De Anna Lynn Johnson was killed in 1982 and her body was dumped along the train tracks
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Credit: Vacaville Police

For 34 frustrating years, police in Vacaville, California, refused to give up on De Anna Lynn Johnson.

The 14-year-old ninth grader was found slain in 1982. Her body was dumped in a remote section of Vacaville along the train tracks.

According to police, De Anna was last seen leaving a house party the day before her remains were recovered. She didn’t return home from the party and was reported missing by her mother.

On Tuesday, investigators charged 51-year-old Marvin Ray Markle, a longtime suspect who was 17 at the time of De Anna’s death, with her killing. Investigators allege that Markle crushed the girl’s skull with a rock.

Markle is currently incarcerated — serving 80 years for the 2001 murder of Shirley Ann Pratt, a 41-year-old woman.

Early on in their investigation, Vacaville detectives suspected Markle was involved in De Anna’s killing, but they couldn’t allegedly link him until he was arrested in 2013 for Pratt’s murder.

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A Vacaville Police Department statement alleges that several witnesses who testified in Markle’s 2014 trial played instrumental roles in allegedly connecting the convicted killer to De Anna’s slaying. Police have not disclosed much of the alleged evidence against Markle, but a prosecution source says “similar witnesses in the Shirley Pratt case” will testify against him.

Markle, who has long denied killing De Anna, is an inmate at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California.

De Anna’s relatives released a statement saying, “It has been a long, hard, and emotional struggle to face each day of the 34 years while De Anna’s murderer has walked free and lived life. We miss her very much, relying on the happy memories, and live on knowing that De Anna believed in God because of Rainbows.”

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The statement adds, “We believe in God because of De Anna. Her family, friends, and the entire community worked tirelessly and never gave up on seeking justice for her; we thank them all for that.”

Markle’s attorney could not be reached for comment Friday. He has not yet entered a plea.