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Over 40 years ago, a girl from Idaho was raped and killed. The defendant is now on trial

Daralyn Johnson woke up early in the morning on February 24, 1982, excited to go to school and give her friend a letter.

The nine-year-old girl from Nampa got ready quickly on that cold morning, putting on her wool socks, greenish pants and a red soccer jersey, then headed to Lincoln Elementary School, six blocks away, where she left her six-year-old sister, Darci.

“What Darci didn’t know was that this would be the last time she would see her sister alive,” Canyon County Assistant Prosecutor Theodore Lagerwall said in court last month..

Daralyn Johnson of Nampa was nine years old when she was killed in 1982.Daralyn Johnson of Nampa was nine years old when she was killed in 1982.

Daralyn Johnson of Nampa was nine years old when she was killed in 1982.

Daralyn’s body was found 18 miles away in a sewage ditch near the Snake River. Lagerwall said she had been raped, “brutally” beaten and drowned.

Four decades after Daralyn’s murder, jurors heard evidence in a trial lasting several weeks and will deliberate whether to convict David Dalrymple, now 66, a Nampa man who lived blocks from the Johnson family, of Daralyn’s premeditated murder and rape. Investigators charged Dalrymple with the crimes in January 2022 after conducting genetic genealogy tests. He was named a suspect in 2020.

“The evidence you will hear in this courtroom will establish that the defendant kidnapped her off the streets,” Lagerwall told jurors in Dalrymple’s criminal trial. “He kidnapped her off the streets and robbed her of her joy, her innocence, her childhood – and he took her life.”

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue announces David Dalrymple as a suspect in the 1982 murder of Daralyn Johnson during a 2020 press conference.Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue announces David Dalrymple as a suspect in the 1982 murder of Daralyn Johnson during a 2020 press conference.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue announces David Dalrymple as a suspect in the 1982 murder of Daralyn Johnson during a 2020 press conference.

Dalrymple threatened to make girls ‘disappear’: affidavit

Charles Fain was initially charged and found guilty of the crimes in November 1983. He was sentenced to death a few months later and spent nearly two decades on death row. He was just four days away from execution in 1991 before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stayed the death penalty, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.

“The problem is that Charles Fain didn’t do this,” Lagerwall said. “You’re going to hear evidence, see evidence and hear testimony that clearly shows that this poor guy didn’t do this.”

Fain was released from prison in 2001, two years after he petitioned to conduct a DNA test on pubic hair found during Johnson’s autopsy. It was not until 2021 that Fain was declared innocent by the state of Idaho.

Charles Fain spent 18 years on death row after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Daralyn Johnson. His conviction was later overturned based on DNA evidence with the help of the Idaho Innocence Project.Charles Fain spent 18 years on death row after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Daralyn Johnson. His conviction was later overturned based on DNA evidence with the help of the Idaho Innocence Project.

Charles Fain spent 18 years on death row after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of nine-year-old Daralyn Johnson. His conviction was later overturned based on DNA evidence with the help of the Idaho Innocence Project.

The pubic hair found on Daralyn was sent to Bode Labs in Lorton, Virginia, in December 2000, according to a Canyon County Sheriff’s Office affidavit obtained by the Statesman through a public records request. For nearly 20 years, investigators tested the hair sample on several suspects until it was sent to another lab in 2018 on the recommendation of Greg Hampikian, co-director of the Idaho Innocence Project, according to previous reporting by the Statesman.

There, the hair was determined to be male, and the FBI used genetic genealogy to identify a family line – the Dalrymple family, consisting of four boys and two girls from Idaho, the affidavit states. At the time of the crime, two of the boys were too young to drive and the third brother was serving in the military; the fourth was David Dalrymple, who lived in Nampa.

Jim Dalrymple, one of David’s brothers, agreed to give a DNA sample to help solve the case. Cheek swabs were sent to a lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where results confirmed it was the Dalrymple family, the affidavit said.

David Dalrymple refused to take a DNA test. But after authorities obtained a warrant to forcibly collect his DNA, tests in April 2020 again showed that the hair most likely belonged to him, the affidavit states. David Dalrymple was formally charged with first-degree murder and rape in January 2022.

Dalrymple was already serving a 20-year to life sentence for kidnapping, indecent contact with a child and sexual abuse of a minor in another case, the affidavit said. The victim in that case was a young girl.

The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office said its investigation identified two other victims of Dalrymple, but they never reported the attack to authorities, the affidavit states.

Both victims said they were between 8 and 11 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assaults. One of the victims told authorities that Dalrymple took her to the river near Eagle and threatened to “make her disappear” if she reported the abuse, the affidavit states.

“It was a long road – 42 years – until Daralyn Johnson’s killer was finally brought to justice,” Lagerwall said during the trial.

Defense attorney says prosecution lost evidence

In his brief opening statement, Dalrymple’s Caldwell attorney, Jesse James, sought to shift the blame onto Fain and discredit the way law enforcement handled the case.

James said the jury would hear from Daralyn’s acquaintance that on the way to school that day she saw an older gray car with large wheels containing a little girl who “could have been Daralyn.”

He added that Fain owned a similar vehicle at the time, painted it red after Daralyn’s death and removed the carpets.

In the 1980s, prosecutors and police lost evidence, including blood that was not properly refrigerated, James said. He added that the Canyon County District Attorney’s Office also lost a whole “box of evidence” in the murder case in recent years.

“At the end of this case, you will have more questions than answers,” James said. “You will have more concerns than confidence, and you will have more doubts than evidence.”