Kerry Hoover was 27 years old the last time she was last seen alive at an American Canyon shopping center more than 25 years ago, on March 22, 1987.
Hoover had been dead for as long as two days by the time her body was found in the bushes nearby by children playing, according to investigators with the Napa County County Cold Case Investigation Unit.
Nobody has been brought to justice for Hoover’s killing. But according to detectives, Hoover’s homicide case is on the verge of reaching closure, along with those of several other long-unsolved murders.
Witnesses saw her alive
Several witnesses told police they saw Hoover talking to two young black men not long before she was killed, according to Napa County Sheriff’s cold case investigator Pat McMahon.
She was talking to the men at the former Rancho Square shopping center at Highway 29 and Mini Drive, at the very south end of Napa County where it turns into the city of Vallejo, McMahon said.
“The bushes where Hoover’s body (was found) are on a residential residence that borders the shopping center. People used it frequently as a shortcut to the shopping center,” McMahon said.
“Her body was found only about 100 yards from where she was last seen," McMahon added.
No evidence of sex assault or robbery
Napa Sheriff’s cold case investigator Todd Shulman said it does not appear as if Hoover had been sexually assaulted.
However, "it could have been a sexual assault that was interrupted,” he said.
Investigators said Hoover’s purse was found at the scene.
“It didn’t appear as if anything was missing. The contents from her purse was scattered about, things like change were found.”
McMahon said it is not clear if Hoover knew the two black men she was talking to a short time before her death.
The men were contacted and interviewed “extensively” after Hoover’s body was found, investigators said.
Shulman said, “Lots of people saw the victim and the black men together before she was murdered. But no one saw anything that is specific to the homicide. Everyone said the behavior of the victim and the men seemed to be normal — no fights or yelling. No one saw them leaving together.”
No enemies known
Hoover lived in a group home in American Canyon at the time of her death. She did not appear to have any enemies who had threatened her, McMahon said.
The cold case unit is working on 42 unsolved homicides from 1963 to 2007.
The investigations are funded by a $500,000 grant which will end June 30.
Detectives are hoping anyone with information about Hoover’s death will come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to call the cold case unit at (707) 299-1521 or Napa Valley Crime Stoppers at 1-800-450-9543.
Detectives urge anyone with information relating to the case to come forward.
“No matter how insignificant it may seem to you, please call us. It could be something we are looking for to crack the case,” Shulman said.