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Detectives still searching for 1982 murderer

Detectives still searching for 1982 murderer
daralyn johnson

NAMPA -- Thursday marked the 29th anniversary of the day a 9-year-old Nampa girl went missing, abducted as she walked to her elementary school in 1982. She was later found dead near the Snake River. Detectives say her killer is still out there, but they continue to work on the case.

Canyon County detectives believe they will solve this mystery someday, but now, they're calling on the public's help. They say someone in the Treasure Valley likely knows something that can close this case.

'It's just a part of my life'

An entire filing cabinet in Lieutenant Donia Ballard's office is dedicated to the little girl's case file. Ballard has spent thousands of hours going through the file, hoping to find Daralyn Johnson's killer. She took on the case ten years ago.

I basically started from square one as though the crime had just occurred that day, Ballard said. I'll wake up in the middle of the night going, oh yeah, I need to do this, or I need to look at it this way. On the weekends... It's just a part of my life.

Johnson was abducted, sexually assaulted, and then murdered. Ballard says it was likely random, and the suspect was likely a stranger.

'She never arrived at school'

It was on February 24, 1982 that Johnson's family saw her alive for the last time. Around 8:00 a.m., the nine-year-old was walking to her school, Lincoln Elementary. She only made it about half a block to the intersection of Greenleaf and High. That's where some school children told detectives at the time, they'd seen a suspicious vehicle.

The parents assigned her as a missing person, and the search began for Daralyn, Ballard said. The community really came together. They had search groups going out all over Nampa.

The search ended three days later when a couple of fishermen found Johnson's body near the Snake River. Then, about a year later, the case was closed.

A suspect was identified and arrested and eventually convicted, Ballard said.

That suspect was Charles Fain. His car matched the suspicious vehicle description. He spent around 18 years in prison, on death row until 2001.

They did some testing, some DNA testing. His DNA did not match the DNA we have as evidence and therefore he was released from prison, Ballard said.

'Somebody had to have seen something'

Now, detectives are working on the case again, and they want your help. Ballard says any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could be vital to her investigation.

They may not think that it's very important, or that they may think, oh this is really stupid, but it may be what breaks the case wide open, Ballard said. The streets were busy. Somebody had to have seen something. They didn't realize that they saw it, but they had to have seen something.

Ballard is particularly interested in talking Daralyn Johnson's friends, even those that talked to detectives back in 1982. Also, she's looking for anyone who played soccer with Johnson, and her soccer coach.

I will never give up on this case. This case will be solved someday. I don't know by whom or when, but we're not going to give up until this case is solved, Ballard said.

You can call Ballard with any information at 454-7477.