MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) — A 70-year-old Nevada man charged in the 1982 killing of a 5-year-old girl who disappeared while walking to her kindergarten class was extradited Friday to California, where he entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment, prosecutors said.
Robert John Lanoue, who is a registered sex offender, was arrested earlier this month in Reno, Nevada, in the killing of Anne Pham after detectives say they solved the cold case using DNA evidence.
The child disappeared while walking to her kindergarten class in Seaside, California. Her body was found two days later in the former Ford Ord. She had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and strangled, California authorities said.
Lanoue was charged with one count of first-degree murder, with special circumstance allegations that he murdered Pham while committing kidnapping and a lewd act on a child under the age of 14, according to the Monterey County District Attorney's Office.
Lanoue was assigned a public defender, said Monterey County prosecutor Matt L’Heureux. The Monterey County Public Defender's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.
Lanoue was 29 years old at the time of the girl’s killing and lived near her home in Seaside, authorities said.
The case was reopened in 2020 when investigators with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Task Force worked with the Seaside Police Department to submit evidence from the case for DNA testing after receiving a grant to reopen cold cases.
On July 6, California investigators obtained a warrant for Lanoue’s arrest. Lanoue was already in the Washoe County jail in Nevada where he was booked on June 8 for a parole violation, records showed.