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Former Marine arrested in 1976 cold case slaying in Orange County

Former Marine arrested in 1976 cold case slaying in Orange County
Leslie Penrod Harris, left, and Eddie Lee Anderson are seen in photos from 1976 released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department. (Orange County Sheriff's Dept.)

A 66-year-old former Marine accused of raping and killing a woman in Orange County 43 years ago faces an extradition hearing in Louisiana on Friday.

Eddie Lee Anderson, jailed in Plaquemines Parish, is accused of killing 30-year-old Leslie Penrod Harris in May 1976, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

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Anderson was arrested at his home in River Ridge, La., on Friday on a warrant charging him with murder with a special circumstance allegation of rape.

Investigators credited advances in DNA technology for the arrest.

Harris was dining with her husband at a Costa Mesa restaurant on May 17, 1976, when she got up and left, but never returned, Braun said.

Her husband called police when she didn't return to the restaurant as it closed at 8:30 p.m.

May 2019 booking photo of Eddie Lee Anderson.
May 2019 booking photo of Eddie Lee Anderson. (Orange County Sheriff's Dept.)

About 4:30 the next morning, military police at what was then the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro found a body in a roadway near the base, Braun said. Investigators determined it was Harris and that she had been strangled.

Investigators reexamined genetic evidence in 1997 but did not come up with any new leads.

In August, investigators started using online genealogy databases to search for a suspect, which has helped authorities make arrests in other cold cases. At some point this year, Anderson became a suspect.

Anderson served at the El Toro base in the early 1970s, and at the time Harris was killed he lived less than a mile from the restaurant where the victim was last seen before she went missing, Braun said.

Investigators went to New Orleans on Thursday to question Anderson, who provided them with a DNA sample, prompting his arrest on suspicion of murder, Braun said.

Authorities did not say what prior relationship, if any, Anderson had with the victim.

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