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Ventura PD solve 33-year-old homicide with Forensic Genetic Genealogy

Utilizing Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG) funded by Season of Justice, Ventura PD announces significant breakthroughs in the 1991 cold case homicide of Danielle Clause.

Zionsville, IN (May 7, 2024) – Today, the Ventura Police Department announced the successful identification of the person who killed 42-year-old Danielle Clause in 1991 as Larry Devon Welch (d. 1999). In June 2022, the Ventura PD was awarded a grant from Season of Justice to fund advanced forensic testing and FGG research conducted by Identifinders International, which ultimately led investigators to identify Mr. Welch. Season of Justice is honored to have played a small role in supporting this cold case investigation and obtaining justice for Danielle and her family. Season of Justice extends its deepest gratitude to all those who never gave up on solving this case, and to our donors who make these grants possible. Please find Ventura PD’s official press release and video below.

Ventura, Calif.  — After over three decades, the Ventura Police Department (VPD) has made a significant breakthrough in the 1991 murder case of Danielle Clause. Using advanced forensic genetic genealogy techniques, law enforcement has identified Larry Devon Welch as the perpetrator, which is a pivotal moment in resolving this long-standing mystery.

“Through extensive collaboration with local and national law enforcement agencies and nonprofits, it’s with great pride that I share this success story,” said Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler. “From the initial investigation in 1991 to recent advancements in forensic techniques, I’m honored to highlight the perseverance of detectives as they continued to seek justice for the victim and her family.”

On July 16, 1991, the body of 42-year-old Clause was found on the hillside located at the top of Tioga Drive near downtown Ventura. The autopsy showed that she had been sexually assaulted and had died due to multiple blunt-force injuries to her head. Once investigators at the time explored every avenue, the case was suspended and considered cold.

In 2021, Ventura Police detectives and forensic specialists retested crime scene evidence for DNA. Forensic genetic genealogy was pursued, and a family tree was developed. Phenotyping was used to verify distinct characteristics of the suspect, and after collecting family DNA samples, Larry Welch was positively identified.

Welch passed away in 1999. There was no known connection between Welch and Clause at the time of her murder.

“My sister was so much more than a victim of a brutal murder. She was artist, a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a wife. She was a good person with a mighty soul, and she was taken way too young,” shared Marcie Forte, Danielle’s sister. “I didn’t really believe that the police were going to solve this, because there are other crimes being committed all the time. I was proven wrong because the Ventura Police and everyone associated with this cold case did a phenomenal job and I am so grateful. I’m so grateful that I lived to see at least a meter of justice and that they found out who did this.”

The Ventura Police Department’s unwavering commitment to securing justice for victims and their families endures, regardless of the elapsed time. Presently, VPD has over 25 cold cases, spanning homicides, missing persons, and unidentified deceased individuals.

The Ventura Police Department has released a storytelling video outlining details of this case from the original investigators, current detectives, and family of the victim. To watch the video and learn more about existing cold cases, visit If you have any new information, please email

You can watch Ventura PD’s video on the case here: