A man arrested last year for the brutal rape and murder of 17-year-old Annette Thur in Santa Cruz County in 1986 appeared in a Redwood City courtroom Thursday morning to be arraigned on a grand jury indictment.
John William Kelley, 50, of Placerville, was indicted by a San Mateo County grand jury Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder with special-circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during a rape and kidnapping, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The special-circumstance charges make Kelley eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted, but Wagstaffe said his office has not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment in the case.
Kelley's court appearance comes seven months after his arrest in Placerville. He did not enter a plea Thursday morning.
Thur had left a party in Boulder Creek early the morning of Dec. 8, 1986, and planned to hitchhike back to her home in Ben Lomond, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
Prosecutors allege that Kelley, who was then 23, married, and living in Ben Lomond, allegedly picked Thur up in his car, kidnapped her and took her to his home where he raped her before strangling or smothering her.
He then allegedly took the teen's body to Skyline Boulevard in unincorporated San Mateo County and dumped it in a ravine off of the roadway, according to the district attorney's office.
A tourist who stopped to enjoy the view from Skyline Boulevard found Thur's body a few days later.
The murder remained unsolved for decades until the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office reopened the case and was able to match Kelley's DNA with fluids found on Thur's body. He was arrested in August 2012.
Kelley, a registered sex offender, was convicted of rape in 1995 for a separate sexual assault in Northern California, Wagstaffe said. He served state prison time and was released.
He is being held in San Mateo County Jail without bail and will return to court in Redwood City on March 22 at 8:45 a.m. to enter a plea.
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