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Murder Of Teenage Cousins Who Were Killed While On A 7-Eleven Run Solved After 37 Years, Police Say

Clifton Hudspeth, who died in 1999, was identified by Fremont Police as the killer of 16-year-old cousins Jeffrey Flores Atup and Mary Jane Malatag.

By M.L. Nestel
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

They never made it home. 

Jeffrey Flores Atup and his cousin Mary Jane Malatag had gone on foot to grab some snacks at a local 7-Eleven in Fremont, California around midnight on Dec. 20, 1982. 

At some point, while they were trekking back to Atup’s abode in neighboring Milpitas, they disappeared.

In the early morning hours, police were called to two separate locations where their 16-year-old bodies were discovered dead on two different street intersections, some four miles apart. 

Their homicides remained unsolved.

That is until last year when Fremont Police detectives secured “key DNA evidence” to try to find the killer or killers. 

And then they found a match and identified the killer as Clifton Hudspeth, a man with a violent past who died in 1999.  

To solidify their findings, authorities dug up Hudspeth’s buried body at a cemetery in Santa Clara, Fremont Police confirmed in a release

Mary Jane Malatag Jeffrey Flores Atup Clifton Hudspeth

Investigators managed to match DNA evidence from Hudspeth’s remains to the cousins' slayings. 

“The suspect's DNA was all over both crime scenes and there was a sole male source," Freemont Police Det. Jacob Blass told KTVU.

Atup and Malatag’s grieving family members credit Blass with going “above and beyond” to deliver long-awaited answers as to the fate of the pair described as “two innocent children.”  

“Our family over the years lost hope in believing that we would ever have justice in knowing who did this and as to what had happened to them,” a statement from the family reads. 

Forensic DNA analysis, employed in this case by labs in the Bay Area and Virginia, has been critical in identifying suspects in a growing number of cold cases, including California's infamous Golden State Killer case.

Police did not reveal the nature of the murders or offer a motive. But they believe Hudspeth was solely responsible. 

“It is believed Hudspeth acted alone and is the only suspect in this case,” police said.

What’s more, detectives continued investigating and determined that Hudspeth was “in the area” of the cousins on the night they were last seen alive. 

His home, they soon learned, “was a four-minute drive from where Atup’s body was located,” according to police. 

Police suspect that the murders of Atup and Malatag were not the only crimes Hudspeth committed.

They suspect the man, who had a criminal past including bank robberies, sexual assaults and at least one attempted homicide, may have also been active in San Diego and Arkansas areas, where he lived prior to landing in Fremont. 

The Fremont Police Department is asking if anyone has more information on this case or other cases where Hudspeth "may be involved" to contact their cold case division.

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