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Posted on: November 15, 2021

Bedford Police Clear 1986 Cold Homicide Case

Janet Love and Ray Chapa

With the help of modern DNA technology, Bedford Detectives were able to solve the 1986 homicide of Janet Elaine Love. 

On April 24, 1986, Janet Love was found dead in her apartment off of L. Don Dodson Drive by two co-workers after she did not show up for work as a ticket agent for Delta Airlines. During the investigation, police were able to determine an unknown assailant had entered the 32-year-old’s apartment, sexually assaulted her, and fatally shot her before fleeing the scene. Investigators followed up on numerous leads through the years, but a suspect could not be identified. Fortunately, a DNA profile was collected from the scene, processed, and later entered in the FBI Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), when the database was created. Over the years, as police continued to investigate the case and follow-up on leads, the suspect’s DNA profile never matched another crime scene or offender entered into CODIS.

Toward the end of 2020, Bedford Police learned of a Texas Department of Public Safety grant called the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project. The grant uses funds from the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct forensic genetic genealogy testing of DNA samples from unknown offenders that are linked to sexual assaults and sexually related homicides. With the help of a genealogist and public records, detectives were able to use the DNA profile to piece together a family tree  of the suspect. After coming up with the suspect’s name, detectives then requested the help of two family members to confirm the suspect’s identity through a kinship analysis conducted by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.

In September , Bedford Police identified Ray Anthony Chapa as the person who took Janet Love’s life. Chapa lived less than 1,000-feet away from Janet Love in a neighboring apartment complex at the time of the homicide. Unfortunately, in 1986, using DNA to solve crimes was in its early stages. Additionally, police departments did not regularly share information with other law enforcement agencies at the time due to lack of centralized databases and the challenge of communicating during that time without email or other forms of modern technology used today.

In January  2021, Chapa passed away from a terminal illness. Detectives are now working with the FBI to look at other possible offenses he could be connected to across the country in case other crimes can be solved. In addition to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Chapa also resided in Chicago and Montana.

“Chapa had no known ties to the victim and was never considered a suspect until DNA technology revealed the truth,” Bedford Police Chief Jeff Williams said. “We are 100 percent sure this is the person who committed this terrible crime. I am so grateful for all the detectives’ hard work and finally being able to bring closure to Janet’s family. They’ve had to wait 35 years for this day.”

Prior to the release of this information, members of the Bedford Police Department met with both the families of Janet Love and Ray Chapa. Both families have asked for privacy at this time.

“The search never stopped,” said Bedford Sgt. Brett Bowen, who was one of the detectives on the Love case when it was cleared. “It wasn’t unsolved because of lack of effort; we just needed science and technology to catch up to be able to put the final pieces together.”

Investigators believe Anthony Chapa may be connected to additional crimes. If you have any additional information, please call the Bedford Police Department at 817-952-2272. 

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Janet Love's family released a statement regarding Chapa being identified as the sole suspect in her homicide. To read it, please visit https://bit.ly/3wPSZXr.

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