Crime

Tempe Police Identify Body of 4-Year-Old Murdered in 1970

The Tempe Police Department has identified the body of a girl who was murdered 40 years ago.

Tempe police say the victim, Surette Clark, was murdered by her step-father, Wayne Clifford Roberts, in November 1970. Surette was 4 years old at the time.

The body was found buried in a shallow grave in 1979, but the murder hadn't been reported yet, so police were unable to make a connection between the body and the little girl. She was labeled a "Jane Doe."


Clark's murder went unreported until 1994, when a member of the girl's family alerted police that Roberts may have murdered her.

Roberts, who was living in Canada with Clark's mother at the time, was convicted of the murder in 1996, but has since been paroled.

Roberts claims the girl's death was an accident, which is why it went unreported for so long. Clark's mother also knew about the death but didn't report it, and moved to Canada with Roberts.

The mother later cooperated in Roberts' prosecution.

Roberts never disclosed the location of the girl's remains, but police say they never gave up trying to track them down.

Investigators from both the Tempe Police Department and the Phoenix Police Department started comparing the 1979 "Jane Doe" to Clark and noticed there were a lot of things in common.

Tempe Detective Tom Magazzeni took DNA from the "Jane Doe" and compared it the DNA of Clark's mother. It was a match.

To be certain, Magazzeni also obtained a DNA sample from Clark's biological father, who died in February. It, too, was a match.

Because Roberts already has been convicted of the murder and served his prison sentence, no additional charges will be filed. Clark's mother, police say, probably won't face charges, either.

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James King
Contact: James King