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Suspect arrested in Aloha cold case murder

by: WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Kenneth Lee HicksWashington County Sheriff's detectives have arrested a suspect in an Aloha cold case murder.

Kenneth Lee Hicks, 49, is charged with murdering 17-year-old Lori Billingsley in 1982.

Although Hicks was a suspect in the murder at the time, there was not enough evidence to indict him. He was recently tied to the crime through DNA evidence and indicted on two counts of aggravated murder by a Washington County Grand Jury on Feb. 26.

Hicks was arrested at about 4:15 a.m. the next day and lodged in the Washington County Jail. He is being held without bail.

Billingsley's body was found in a drainage ditch on Southwest Miller Hill Road south of Southwest Farmington Road in the community of Aloha on Oct. 10, 1982. It was determined that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered.

Washington County Sheriff's detectives worked the case for over a year until all leads were exhausted. According to the sheriff's office, Hicks, who was 19 at the time, was identified as a potential suspect, but there was not enough evidence to charge him with the murder.

In 1991, detectives submitted evidence from the Billingsley homicide to the Oregon State Police (OSP) Crime Lab for DNA analysis. No profile was identified.

By 2010, DNA technology had advanced enough to allow testing of small or degraded samples of evidence that were previously unable to be tested. That year, detectives again submitted evidence from the Billingsley homicide to the OSP Crime Lab for DNA analysis. A DNA profile was identified but didn't match any people currently in the DNA database.

In April of 2010, Detective Mike O'Connell retired from the Washington County Sheriff's Office after 30 years of service. O'Connell served in the Investigations Division for 23 years before his retirement. In December 2010, he returned part time to the Sheriff's Office dedicated to solving cold cases. O'Connell began working the Billingsley homicide, supported by the Sheriff's Violent Crimes Unit.

O'Connell then served a search warrant to seize fresh samples of Hicks's DNA. It was sent to the OSP Crime Lab. The DNA profile from the Billingsley homicide was a positive match for Kenneth Hicks's DNA profile.

Detectives are still seeking the public's help regarding this case. If you have any information, please call the Washington County Sheriff's Office at (503) 846-2500.



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