Alhambra man arrested in connection with the historical cold murder of Donna Lee Kelly

A 71-year-old Alhambra man was arrested for a 2004 murder by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Detectives Wednesday.

The arrest culminated an eight year investigation of the murder of 59-year-old Donna Lee Kelly, whose suffocated body was found in the trunk of her car three weeks after her disappearance.

Donna Kelly was last seen on March 24, 2004, at her apartment located in the 7200 block of Jackson Place, North San Gabriel (unincorporated). Her daughter, Diane, reported Kelly missing on April 4, 2004, and pleaded publicly through the news media for the safe return of her mother. At that time, no evidence of foul play was detected.

During the investigation, detectives learned Donna Kelly was romantically involved with Richard Allan Munnecke, who was married.

It was Diane who discovered her mother’s body on April 15, 2004. She was driving her mother’s car through Eaton Canyon County Park in Pasadena (unincorporated) and smelled a foul odor emanating from the trunk. She looked inside and found her mother’s decomposed body inside.

It was later learned the murder had occurred at Donna Kelly’s home and her body was moved to the trunk of her own vehicle, which sat in an apartment parking lot, unnoticed until Diane drove it.

Sheriff’s investigators collected DNA evidence from Donna Kelly’s body, her apartment and her vehicle, but there was no match in the database so the case went cold.

Eight years later, the same Sheriff’s Homicide Detectives, Elizabeth Smith and Richard Lopez revisited the case and gathered new information. They obtained a DNA sample from Munnecke and, thanks in part to a Federal grant to fund DNA testing for cold cases, were able to get test results.

Based upon the detectives’ findings, the evidence and the DNA match, a search warrant for Munnecke’s residence, located in the 800 block of North Almansor Street, Alhambra, was obtained and served on the morning of Wednesday, February 8, 2012.

Munnecke was arrested at his Alhambra home, pursuant to an arrest warrant, and booked at Temple Sheriff’s Station for Murder. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. 

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