Authorities ID Teen Found Dead in Long Beach in 1978

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LONG BEACH (CNS) - A teen boy who was found dead in Long Beach in 1978 but whose identity was unknown for decades was finally identified Wednesday by police who said he was a runaway from La Puente who had never been reported missing.

Long Beach police said advancements in DNA technology enabled them to identify the boy as 15-year-old Kenneth Nevada Williams, who had run away from home in 1978. Police -- who worked on the identification process with the FBI, county coroner's office, the District Attorney's Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children -- said the boy's identity has been confirmed by his family.

According to Long Beach police, Kenneth last attended Sierra Vista Middle School in 1977 and was enrolled in Fairgrove Academy on Oct. 18, 1977, but the last day he attended school was Oct. 27, 1977.

The mystery of his death remains unsolved.

"Justice delayed doesn't have to be justice denied in this case. Kenneth Nevada Williams is now a known victim and identifying his killer is the next step in solving this case," Donald Always, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, said in a statement.

Kenneth's body was found on June 3, 1978, on Division Street east of Corona Avenue in Long Beach. Authorities did not reveal an exact cause of death.

Investigators at the time were stymied in their attempts to find his killer. At one point, a convicted serial killer named Randy Kraft was believed to be linked to the boy's death, but he was "ultimately ruled out as a suspect," police said.

Police urged anyone with information about the teen's death to come forward, saying the culprit "must be held accountable for their crimes so that Kenneth Williams and his family will get the justice they have long deserved."

Anyone with information was asked to contact the LBPD Homicide Detail, Missing Persons Section at 562-570-7246. Anonymous tips can be submitted through LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

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