As time runs out for Napa County's cold case investigation unit, which is funded by a grant that expires next month, detectives have added three more names to the list of unsolved deaths and disappearances they believe have the highest possibility of being solved using modern evidence techniques.
“The advancement of criminal investigation technology, especially DNA, gives us the opportunity to solve some of the cold cases,” said Detective Chris Carlisle, who is in charge of the cold case unit.
On March 25, 1963, at 7:15 pm., Dorothy Heskett notified the Napa Police Department that her 5-year-old daughter, Doreen Heskett, was missing.
Initial investigation revealed that Doreen was last seen about 2:15 p.m., near the intersection of Pueblo and Jefferson Streets in Napa, presumably on her way home from a play date with a friend. She was never seen again alive.
A massive search effort was mounted, including law enforcement personnel, blood hounds, helicopters, dive teams, civilian volunteers and the Air Force. Doreen was not located.
On Nov. 21, 1963, about 8:30 am., Earl Stewart notified the Napa Police Department that he had located skeletal human remains on his property, just south of Napa; this location is farm land located about 3 miles south of where Doreen was last seen. The remains were subsequently identified as hers.
A forensic exam/autopsy failed to reveal the exact cause of death. However, the condition of the body pointed to evidence of foul play and a coroner’s inquest determined Doreen was killed.
During the intervening years several suspects were investigated due to their relationship with Doreen’s family, the proximity of their residence to the Heskett residence, their unusual sexual interests, and second/third-hand suspicions of various suspects' family members.
None of these potential suspects admitted any involvement in the crime, and the state of the forensic evidence (as processed using 1963 methods) did not reveal any links.
Kin Po Ko
On March 31, 1991, a man entered what was then known as Sam’s Market on Broadway in American Canyon, produced a knife and robbed store owner Kin Po Ko, 37, of money from the cash register.
Ko’s 14 year-old-daughter was inside the store at the time and witnessed the entire incident.
During the robbery, Kin Po Ko obtained a firearm from behind the counter and was able to draw it on the robber. Ko then approached the man to recover the stolen cash.
A struggle ensued and Ko was stabbed once. The suspect fled on foot to the rear of the market with Ko chasing him.
Deputies arrived as Ko was walking into the store, where she collapsed. She was taken by ambulance to the Kaiser Hospital Emergency Room in Vallejo where she died from the single stab wound.
Police conducted an area check and were unable to locate the suspect.
Eileen Hynson, 19, disappeared from the Lake Berryessa resort area in June 1976. According to her father, she left a residence at one of the resorts on route to a bridal party dress fitting in Benicia. She never arrived.
The circumstances surrounding her disappearance have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database as well as the national database at namus.gov. A photograph of her can be viewed at findthemissing.org.