Cold case team arrests man for ex-wife's murder - Hi-Desert Star: News

Cold case team arrests man for ex-wife's murder

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:39 am

WONDER VALLEY — Nearly 10 years after Jean Leppan’s body was found in a shallow grave here, her ex-husband was arrested for murder.

Charles Leppan, 41, was arrested at his house in Clarkston, Mich., Sunday, Oct. 13. He was booked at a county jail and is awaiting extradition to California for the murder of Jean Leppan, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.

John Thomas, a prosecutor who works in San Bernardino County’s cold-case investigation unit, was with two sheriff’s detectives when they knocked on Leppan’s door Sunday.

“He was surprised when we showed up,” Thomas said via telephone Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Jean Leppan was last seen alive in January 2004, when she and Charles Leppan, then a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, were sharing a Yucca Valley house while trying to reconcile.

Leppan never reported her missing, and he remarried two weeks after she disappeared, investigators said.

A man walking his dog near Ironage Road, 22 miles east of downtown Twentynine Palms, found Jean Leppan buried in a shallow grave on May 12, 2004. She had suffered a traumatic injury and homicide detectives could not identify her from the remains. Investigators used dental records to identify her on May 27, 2004, and immediately brought in Charles Leppan for questioning. After the interview, they arrested Leppan for investigation of murder. The next week, however, Leppan was released when the district attorney’s office decided not to file charges against him.

“We did not want to go forward with the case at its present stage of investigation,” Linda Root, the prosecutor supervising the Joshua Tree district attorney’s office, told the Hi-Desert Star at the time.

While Thomas would not share why the cold-case team was able to arrest Leppan again, he said it was not DNA evidence, but more in the line of “old-fashioned police work.”

“A lot of it can be attributed to the original investigators and the work they did in the case, because they did an outstanding job,” he said, referring to Detective Gina Perez and Sgt. Bobby Dean.

Now out of the Marine Corps and divorced from his second wife, Leppan was living in the Clarkston Lakes Mobile Home Park at the time of his arrest, the Clarkston News reports.

On their way to Michigan to interview Leppan, investigators also questioned Leppan’s second ex-wife, who lives in the Midwest, Thomas added.

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  • mikemather posted at 6:30 am on Wed, Nov 27, 2013.

    mikemather Posts: 55

  • laurenleppan posted at 10:41 pm on Fri, Nov 22, 2013.

    laurenleppan Posts: 1

    @mikemather, I would very much like to get in touch with you. Patrick is my fiancee and he's been asking me to try to track you down. If you're willing to talk, I'll pass on my contact info. Thank you so much for publicly giving out some REAL information rather than allow this fear mongering and lynch mob mentality to continue.

  • tony posted at 5:25 am on Sun, Oct 27, 2013.

    tony Posts: 243

    The fact that the article states that the cops around here did some "old fashioned " police work around here is what makes me call b.s. on the arrest. You can hand these guys SOLVED cases and they blow it. What a joke.

  • mikemather posted at 10:31 am on Fri, Oct 18, 2013.

    mikemather Posts: 55

    I picked Patrick (Charles Leppan) up after the jail released him to PMO. The DA didn't have a case. They confiscated his vehicle, computer and other things, trashed them all and found nothing. He and his first wife had a daughter. They were trying to repair their marriage but she was doing drugs, hanging out with some very unsavory people, whom she was bringing over to their home. He made her leave. Off she went with her druggy friends and was not seen again. The police had a body with an identifying tattoo on it. They put it in the paper to see if anyone recognized it. Patrick called it in, saying his ex-wife had one like that. Then they confirmed her identity with dental records. They put him in jail for about a week, had nothing, and let him go. I've known Patrick since I coached him in Hawaii when he was 8 years old. His mom worked with me as a board member of the youth program there, and his dad was a fellow Marine, maintenance chief for a helicopter squadron at Kaneohe Bay. This guys first and most important priority was raising his daughter. He sent her to his mom's in Michigan to get her away from the drug problem her mother was having. With all of this hanging over him I'm not surprised the second marriage didn't work out. All of this happened about the same time. Personally I don't think the police have any more than they had before. But I'm betting they haven't focused on the real problem of drugs and druggy friends being at the route of this whole thing. Pat either won't go to trial or he'll be acquitted for lack of any real evidence. Way to many unanswered questions that remain unanswered. That's just my opinion. Give me jury duty and we'll settle this once and for all.


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