Barbara Nantais and Claire Hough were two teens who were found dead on the sand at Torrey Pines State Beach, near San Diego, California. Their haunting story and the decades-long search to find the killers will be presented tonight in a brand new episode of CBS 48 Hours. The story tonight is titled “Blood In The Sand,” and it will feature a tenacious news reporter, police investigators, and the sisters of the two victims. According to CBS 48 Hours preview, the ex-wife of a man whose DNA was found at the scene will also give her commentary. It took investigators almost 40 years to solve the case. Tune in tonight to follow the trail.
An Attractive Place With A Dark Past
Torrey Pines State Beach is a picturesque beach in Southern California that has attracted tourists, military men, surfers, and local teens each year to its gorgeous shorelines. But, as much as this idyllic place is known for its beauty, it is also known for its danger. It was 1978 when police were called to the scene, where they found the body of a deceased female, who was later identified as 15-year-old Barbara Nantais, CBS 48 Hours will report. The pretty cheerleader had visited the beach with her 17-year-old boyfriend, James Alt, for a night of romantic fun. Jim, aka James Alt, had promised Barbara Nantais’ father that he would not take her out that weekend, since her parents were going out of town. But as teens often do, they went out anyway, and it was the last time that her family saw her alive.
As you’ll see on 48 Hours, Jim couldn’t tell police much, since he had been severely beaten over the head and knocked unconscious, while Barbara Nantais was being attacked. He regained consciousness hours later and was able to make his way back to his friends, who had slept in their car a distance away. Police looked at Jim as a suspect at first but quickly ruled him out due to the severity of his injuries. There was no way in hell he could have inflicted those type of injuries on himself. An autopsy report showed that Barbara Nantais had been beaten, and then choked to death.
There were also two more disturbing details; her nipple had been cut off, and her genitals had been abused with a sharp object. There were no suspects and no clues in the case. Six years later, it happened again. This time, the victim was 14-year-old Claire Hough, a Cranston, Rhode Island, student who was visiting her grandmother for the summer. Torrey Pines State Beach was an instant attraction for Hough, who couldn’t wait to soak up the sun. It is believed that Claire had visited the beach earlier that day and that she had perhaps met someone that she planned to meet that night. Whatever her plans were, she didn’t make it home.
The last time that her grandmother saw her, Claire was in bed. Detectives say the young teen sneaked out of her grandmother’s house late that night and headed to the beach with her cassette stereo and a bag. When Claire Hough’s body was found, she was lying half naked with her blue jeans pulled partially down. She, like Barbara Nantais, was strangled and badly beaten. Her left breast was missing and her private part had also been disfigured with a sharp object.
Case Solved! Who Was This Killer Lurking Around Torrey Pines Beach At Night?
Over the years, several experts have tried to weigh in with a profile of the killer. Some suggested that it could have been a female, while another stated that it could have been a military man. Truth was—no one really knew. The case was solved after a DNA hit matched two suspects–62-year-old Ronald Clyde Tatro and 67-year-old Kevin Charles Brown, a former San Diego Police Department employee. Tatro died in a boating accident in 2011, and Brown killed himself after he was questioned by detectives in 2014. Both Barbara and Claire were found in almost the exact location, and both victims were found with sand stuffed inside their mouths. Despite the similarities in these cases, there seemed to be no real connection to the two murders, according to the LA Times. 48 Hours will air tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
[Image via 48 Hours/Facebook]