Antioch police arrest “prime suspect” in 37-year-old Bombardier murder case Monday

Mitchell Lynn Bacom, now and as he looked in the 1980’s. Photos courtesy of APD

“Justice for Suzanne” means “Antioch is safer, tonight”

Suzanne Bombardier. Herald file photo.

By Allen Payton

At around 5:00 p.m. Monday evening, the family of Suzanne Bombardier whose kidnapping, rape and murder had gone unsolved for 37 years, finally had closure when Antioch police arrested 63-year-old Mitchell Lynn Bacom at his home in Antioch. During a press conference Monday night, Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks announced the arrest saying he was “ecstatic” and credited retired Captain Leonard Orman, DNA testing by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Lab and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.

Bacom, an Antioch resident, was arrested without incident in front of his house in the 300 block of West Madill.

“This closes the oldest, open cold case homicide on record with the Antioch Police Department,” Brooks stated, and then thanked “Suzanne Bombardier’s family for not giving up hope,” although “it would not bring Suzanne back.” He further said it was solved through “patience and persistence.”

Orman was brought back to work on the case, earlier this year after the DNA was sent to the crime lab two years ago and got a hit by CODIS, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, in May. Interim DA Diana Becton gave credit to Paul Holes, her office’s Cold Case Investigator and Chief of Forensic and the Safe Streets Task Force.

“Justice may not have come as swiftly as we would like,” she stated, and said her office will be filing charges against Bacom tomorrow of “murder with use of a deadly weapon and additional charges, as well.”

Bombardier was taken in the middle of the night from her sister’s home at 3421 Hudson Court in Antioch while babysitting. She was missing for approximately five days and eventually found deceased in the San Joaquin River near the Antioch Bridge. Her cause of death was determined to be one stab wound to the chest which penetrated her heart. Evidence at the time indicated she had been sexually assaulted.

Numerous suspects and persons of interest were developed and investigated over the years. Some were eliminated while others remained unresolved until recently. Bacom was one of the original suspects in the case, “the prime suspect” according to former Antioch Detective Greg Glod who worked the case, along with retired Detective Ron Rackley who first took the report that initiated the investigation in 1980.

Two years ago, during the 35th anniversary of the murder, they and retired Antioch Sgt. Larry Hopwood asked then Chief Allan Cantando to reopen the case and offered to serve as a volunteer cold case squad. They launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the cold case. (See related article). Later that year the DNA was sent to the crime lab for testing.

Through that DNA testing, one of the suspects, 63-year-old Mitchell Lynn Bacom of Antioch, has been determined to be responsible for these heinous crimes. He is currently being held on the charges of murder, kidnapping, rape and oral copulation.

“He was never off the suspect list,” Brooks stated, and that “he was known to Suzanne and the family.”

“That’s who we always suspected,” Rackley stated, when reached for comment following the press conference. “We can finally sleep again.”

“I knew this all along,” Glod said when reached at his home in the Washington, D.C. area, where he now works for the U.S. Secret Service as an instructor at their academy. “He was clearly the prime suspect, clearly in my mind, from the beginning.”

Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks was joined by (L-R) Antioch Police Captain Diane Aguinaga and retired Captain Leonard Orman, as well as Paul Holes, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Investigator and Chief of Forensics, and Interim Contra Costa DA Diana Becton.

Suspect Had History of Violent Crime

In 1973, Bacom was arrested in Mountain View, California for rape, robbery, assault with intent to commit murder and oral copulation. As a result of that investigation, he was convicted in 1974 of first and second-degree burglary, assault with intent to murder and sodomy. He was sentenced to five years to life.

In February of 1981, Bacom was arrested for robbery and rape in Isleton, California. As a result of that case, he was convicted of first degree burglary, robbery, rape and sodomy. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

In 2002, Bacom was convicted in Contra Costa County of failing to properly register as a sex offender and sentenced to four years in prison. This conviction was the result of a Pittsburg Police Department investigation.

When the biological evidence was originally collected in this case, DNA testing did not exist as a method of determining guilt in our justice system. Over the years, the Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office have monitored developments in DNA testing in the hopes that advancements would be made allowing this evidence to be processed and a DNA profile developed. In 2015, the decision was made to submit the biological evidence to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory in an effort to develop a DNA profile. This lab was equipped to conduct some of the most advanced available DNA testing. In early 2017, the department was notified that a CODIS hit was made tentatively identifying Mitchell Lynn Bacom as the perpetrator. Additional testing was required in order to confirm the identification.

Glod spoke about Bacom’s history of crime, saying, “I’m amazed how he got out of prison on the first one” and that “he was on parole when this took place,” referring to the Bombardier murder.

He gave credit to former Antioch Detective Guy Worth, who is currently battling cancer, and “is probably dancing, right now. He was instrumental…he did all he could to keep this case alive, in spite of all he’s going through.”

Glod also thanked the media for their articles and TV news segments in 2015 and 2016.

“I appreciate people like you (referring to the Herald), Henry Lee from KTVU, the Contra Costa Times and Jennifer Gibbbons, the author who wouldn’t let this go,” he stated.

“Although we are ecstatic an arrest has been made in this case it will not bring Suzanne back into her family’s lives,” Brooks said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Suzanne Bombardier’s family and we hope this mystery being solved offers some level of comfort for them.”

Media from throughout the Bay Area was in attendance for the Tammany Brooks’ first press conference as Antioch Police Chief.

“Although in recent years there was some question relative to our commitment regarding this investigation, we never gave up on bringing this case to a resolution,” he shared. “The reality was that science had to make advances in order for a positive identification of the killer to be made. It was through patience, persistence, networking, modern investigative techniques and scientific advances that this case was solved.”

“I’m glad that people didn’t forget, the Antioch Police Department and District Attorney’s Office,” Glod said. “They were instrumental in solving this. It’s a good day for Antioch. Antioch did not forget their citizen. It’s great news for the family and all the friends who have been traumatized by this. We finally got some justice for Suzanne Bombardier.”

“It’s bringing some closure for me in my life,” he added. “This is a great moment for me. I’m glad to see it was him they arrested. This is big news.”

More Work Still To Be Done

When reached for comment, Orman said, “It was good to see it to this point,” knowing that there is still more work to be done following the arrest. “Antioch is safer tonight and that’s what matters,” he added.

“This does not constitute the end,” Brooks confirmed during his first press conference since becoming Chief in May, stating that the department needed to determine if Bacom has been involved in any other crimes.

As such, the Antioch Police Department will be networking with other law enforcement agencies in an effort to determine if Mitchell Lynn Bacom has been involved in other murders and/or sexual assaults. We encourage anyone with information regarding this case to contact the Antioch Police Department. Additionally, we are hoping to hear from any of Mitchell Lynn Bacom’s past victims, including those who may have never made reports to law enforcement.

Anyone wanting to provide information relative to Mitchell Lynn Bacom’s criminal conduct may contact Detective Leonard Orman at (925) 779-6918. Any further information or additional press releases will be provided by the Lt. Tarra Mendes at (925) 779-6946. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

the attachments to this post:

media at press conference

Chief Brooks press conf

Bacom then and now

One Comment to “Antioch police arrest “prime suspect” in 37-year-old Bombardier murder case Monday”

  1. Ken says:

    It certainly would be nice if and when more substantially qualified volunteers committed to opening old files and submitting existing DNA evidence for testing; the cross filing system is available and as much cold evidence as possible should be fed into it.

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