After 46 Years, Bride-to-Be Murders Remain Unsolved

SACRAMENTO -- For the past four years, at least once a week, Micki Links has come into the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

The former sergeant is retired, and she's busy at home with a 2-year-old grandson. But she comes back, for the broken-hearted.

Linda Bennallack Cox has been grieving for nearly half a century. Her sister Nancy was murdered in 1970.

"I just wish so badly we could find out who did this," she said.

But Nancy wasn't the only victim. Her neighbor, Judith Hakari, was also killed that same year.

"Oh, there's a lot of similarities," Links said.

Nancy and Judy were both from Sacramento and both in their 20s.

"They're both professional women, working jobs" explained Links.

Both were ready to walk down the aisle.

"Both young and in love, they're going to get married" Links continued.

They also both lived in the Arden area. The neighborhood has changed a lot in the last 45 years. But back then, the two would have been able to see each other's apartments, which were separated by only a block.

March 7, 1970, 11:30 p.m. Hakari calls her fiance to tell him she's leaving Sutter Memorial Hospital where she works as a nurse. By 1:30 in the morning, she has still not come home. Her fiance, waiting at her apartment, begins to worry.

"He went out to the apartment complex parking lot and discovered her car was parked in the assigned space that she had," Links said.

But Judith was nowhere to be seen. She was found one month later, strangled and bludgeoned to death.

"Some hikers discovered a body in a shallow grave up in the town of Weimar, in Placer County. And during their investigation they determined that it was Judith Hakari," Links said.

October 25, 1970. Seven months after Hakari's murder. Nancy Bennallack, a court reporter, kisses her fiance goodbye and gets ready for bed.

"She lived in a second-story apartment, and she had the sliding glass door opened a little bit because she had a cat, and she wanted to make sure the cat could go in and out," Links explained.

That night, as Bennallack slept, someone climbed a fence and sneaked into her apartment through the open balcony door. A friend found her the next day. She had been stabbed to death.

"She was just so sweet and nice," Bennallack Cox said.

For Bennallack Cox, it's painful to even talk about her sister after so many years. Healing is difficult without knowing who killed her and why.

"She was just a good person, who never hurt anybody," Bennallack Cox said.

After 46 years, no one has been arrested in either case. Several suspects were questioned and eliminated. But new forensic technology is giving detectives hope. Technicians retested blood evidence left behind at Nancy's apartment and developed a full DNA profile of the killer.

"If we find the right person, and his profile matches, then we will know that's our suspect," Links said.

In Hakari's case, there is no DNA profile. The evidence was accidentally damaged and couldn't be tested. But Links believes both cases could be connected.

"The bottom line is, a case from 40 or 50 years ago where someone was murdered and taken from their family is not any less important than the homicide that happened yesterday," Links said.

It's her promise to the broken-hearted.

"I just hope that somebody out there will see this, and this will help solve the mystery," Bennallack Cox said.

-- Katie Talbot filed this report.