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San Diego cold case solved after 46 years

Picture of Frank Botts
Posted at 7:28 PM, May 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 17:27:03-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — After 46 years, three siblings now know what happened to their father who was murdered in San Diego in 1977.

Frank Body, 61, was a Marine Corps veteran and eventually opened a gift shop, Bott's Gift Shop, in College Grove.

On April 2, 1977 Frank was found stabbed to death in a room in the back of the store.

Detectives swept the crime scene, pulling fingerprints and finding a rare hat left behind by the suspect.

Now, decades later, the fingerprint pulled from a glass counter top has lead to enough evidence to close the case.

"We've been working on this case for 2 years and there's been a lot of forensic back and forth between various labs and the police department," said Tony Johnson, the senior investigator with the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

Over the years, DNA was sent to a total of five different labs - Four of them in San Diego and one in Texas.

New technology allowed DNA to be pulled from that rare hat, as well as fingernail scraping from Frank's body. Both of those DNA results matched the identity of the fingerprint.

"Sometimes it gets kind of discouraging, but ultimately when you make that last piece fit it's a good feeling," said Johnson.

Johnson says the suspect, Norman Lamont Jones, would have been 16-years-old at the time of Frank's murder.

Johnson says Jones's criminal record began at the age of 14 and continued through his adult life. He says Jones spent most of his time in and out of jail, before he was killed in an officer-involved shooting in 1991 after a robbery in Fashion Valley.

"Fortunately, after 1991, nobody would ever lose his life because of him," said John Botts, relieved to know the man investigators believe killed his father is no longer alive.

John grew up in Oceanside but now lives in South Dakota. He has two sisters.

When John initially got the call from investigators saying his dad's case was solved, he did not know what to say.

"None of us thought after 46 years that anything would ever come of it so we're all a little surprised at that," said John.

As technology continues advancing, Johnson hopes this case is an example of the many investigators hope to solve for victims in San Diego.