It’s been 34 years since 14-year-old De Anna Lynn Johnson attended a party near her home in Vacaville, California, never to return. Two days later her mangled body would be found near a set of railroad tracks.
Other teens who had attended the party with De Anna were questioned by investigators. Also at the party that evening was then 17-year-old Marvin Ray Markle. Witnesses acknowledged that De Anna had spoken with Markle at the party, but had not been friends prior to the gathering. Aspects of Markle’s account of that evening set off red flags to investigators, but there was not enough evidence to charge him in De Anna’s murder.
In 1990, Markle moved from Vacaville and relocated to Butte County where he remained for at least a decade. In 2001, Markle had become a primary suspect in another murder case when a fisherman uncovered the body of Shirley Pratt near a wildlife preserve in Biggs. It appeared that the woman had been shot to death.
Initially, it would have seemed that Markle would get away with murder again. After 12 long years, prosecutors were able to compile enough evidence to charge Markle in the death of Shirley Pratt. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Markle’s conviction for the murder of Shirley Pratt is what had allowed investigators to re-open the murder of De Anna Lynn Johnson. Police worked closely with investigators in Biggs to bring Markel to justice in both cases. Markle was formally charged with the murder of De Anna Lynn Johnson in January 2017.
Police do not believe that both murders were in any way connected, other than the fact that both of his victims were female and in both cases the bodies were dumped in an open area with no attempt to conceal them. If convicted, Markle’s sentence will be added to the 80 years he’s already serving for the murder of Shirley Pratt.
De Anna’s mother, Ginger Dimpel, stated during a press conference that, “… we are encouraged that the truth will prevail, and finally–justice will be done.”