Antioch police arrest 63-YO man in 1980 cold case rape and murder of girl

Antioch police arrested a man on Monday for the city's oldest cold case murder of a teenage girl.

Suzanne Bombardier was kidnaped, raped and murdered in 1980. For the first time in more than 37 years, police have publicly named and arrested a suspect: 63-year-old Mitchell Lynn Bakem of Antioch.

Police Chief Tammany Brooks says he was taken into custody without incident at his home shortly before 5 p.m.

The suspect is described as a registered sex offender with a rap sheet that dated back to 1973 for crimes including burglary and sodomy. 

"While we are ecstatic that an arrest was made in this case , it will not bring Suzanne back into her family's lives," says Chief Brooks. 

It was a case that grabbed headlines in 1980. On June 21st, the first day of summer, 14-year-old Suzanne was kidnaped while babysitting. 

She was an honor roll student at Antioch Junior High. 

"Suzanne was taken in the middle of the night from her sister's home on Hudson Court in Antioch where she was babysitting," says Chief Brooks. 

Five days later, Suzanne's nude body was pulled from the San Joaquin River, about a quarter mile from the Antioch Bridge. 

She had been sexually assaulted and was stabbed in the heart.

Bakem was about 26 at the time and police say he was was among the suspects they looked at from the start.

Police say he was known to Suzanne and her family.

It wasn't until March of this year that dna evidence obtained from Suzanne's body enabled a crime lab to develop a profile to help identify the suspect.

"It was through patience, persistence, networking, modern investigative techniques and these scientific advances that this case was solved," says Chief Brooks.
"Justice may not have come as swiftly as we hoped or liked. But we will be continuing to work diligently on this case and hopefully justice will come," says Contra Costa County District Attorney Diane Becton.

Police say the arrest of Bakem is only the beginning.  They are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine if he is responsible for other crimes.

If there are other victims, investigators are asking them to contact police.