California Cousins Get Maximum Sentence for 1973 Cold-Case Murders of Teenage Girls
Two cousins were sentenced to prison for the 1973 murders of a 12- and 13-year-old girl that went unsolved for more than four decades, PEOPLE confirms.
William Lloyd Harbour, 65, and Larry Don Patterson, 66, were sentenced to five years to life in prison Thursday for using a shotgun to kill 12-year-old Valerie Janice Lane and 13-year-old Doris Karen Derryberry.
Both are eligible for parole every five years, a Yuba County Superior Court official tells PEOPLE. Their penalty was the maximum allowable under the law at the time of the murders.
Harbour and Patterson were arrested in September, 43 years after the murders, following a break in the cold case.
Doris and Valerie were close friends who were last seen alive when they went shopping on Sunday, Nov. 11, 1973. Their bodies were found the next day by a dirt road after their mothers called authorities to report them missing. Doris had been sexually assaulted before she was killed, authorities said.
Despite conducting more than 60 interviews, the case went cold in 1976.
But in March 2014, a Yuba sheriff’s investigator with “a little bit of down time” reexamined the case with an evidence technician, Sheriff spokeswoman Leslie Carbah told PEOPLE in September. Semen samples from Doris’ body, which had been preserved since her death, were recovered and tested, said Carbah.
Later in 2014, the DNA evidence came back as a match for both Harbour and Patterson, reopening the case, Yuba authorities said in a news release.
According to the Associated Press, both men had committed crimes in the interim severe enough to warrant their DNA collection.
Harbour has previous felony drug convictions and Patterson was previously convicted for the 1976 rape of two women, Yuba County Sheriff Steven Durfor told PEOPLE in September.
Neither man was investigated in 1973, according to Yuba County officials, despite the fact that both had “a level of familiarity” with the victims’ families at the time of their deaths, according to Durfor.
Yuba County public defender Brian Davis, who represented Harbour, told the Chicago Tribune his client was “sorry for the family glad that it has come to a resolution and that it is over.”
Patterson’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
Deputy Yuba County District Attorney John Vacek told the Tribune, “The families rightly view this as these guys had 43 years of freedom and we lost our daughters.”
He added, “It’s tough to say justice has been served, but we do what we can.”
• With Reporting by ADAM CARLSON