Larry Thomas Hite was convicted of murdering Nancy Klinger, who was missing for two years before her remains were found in San Bernardino County, California.
Hite, who worked as a security guard, went on several dates with Klinger before asking the 28-year-old for her assistance in cracking a black market baby ring.
He told her that he was working as an undercover investigator with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and that he would pay her to pose as his wife, according to the Whittier Daily News.
Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum said, “He had also identified himself as an undercover officer to others, even showing a badge.”
Klinger agreed since she was a single mother of three, and she presumably needed the money.
On Aug. 29, 1986, she dropped her children off with their babysitter and met up with Hite at the Vagabond Bar, and she was never seen alive again.
Nearly two years after her disappearance, on March 4, 1988, Klinger was found dead. A hiker discovered skeletal remains in a remote area near the iron bridge off Greenspot Road.
The remains were identified through dental records as those of Klinger.
Her body was transported to the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, but her cause of death could not be determined due to the body’s state of decomposition.
According to The Press-Enterprise, the pathologist was able to conclude that her nose had been broken.
Hite became a suspect in the case when her roommate turned over a cell phone number that belonged to him, but that wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest.
Then Klinger’s murder turned cold.
It was reported that after Klinger was found dead, Hite moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona, where he was arrested and convicted of sexually assaulting two women.
They also suffered broken noses during the incident.
Hite was released from prison in 2008, and he moved in with his brother in Riverdale. When investigators reopened Klinger’s case and reexamined the evidence, Hite confessed to the murder.
In 2009, Riverside police officers arrested Hite. He was booked into the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of murder.
His bond was set at $1 million.
That same year, Hite was sentenced at the San Bernardino Justice Center to 25 years to life in prison.
The judge told Hite that he found “this to be one of the most disturbing cases I have ever seen given the impact.”
Retired sheriff’s Capt. Mike Howell, who investigated Klinger’s disappearance decades ago, said: “I knew he killed her, but we couldn’t prove it. I am ecstatic.”
In a statement, District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said: “Thanks to the hard work of our Cold Case Unit and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.”
“We were able to solve this case and bring the family some sense of closure after all these years.”
“As for Nancy, the victim in this case, we were able to obtain the only thing we could, justice.”
At around 6 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2015, a corrections officer found Hite dead on the floor of his cell at the Kern Valley State Prison.
He was hogtied and impaled, but his cause of death was suffocation, the Fontana Herald News reported.
He was 59 years old.
According to KGET, Hite was murdered by his then-25-year-old cellmate, Travis Smoot, who claimed that he grew weary of him constantly gloating about a rape he wasn’t convicted of.
“I told him to stop or I would (expletive) kill him,” Smoot said. “Hite wouldn’t stop, so I tortured Hite all night and killed him around 4 [a.m.] this morning.”
At the time, Smoot was incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison for repeated vehicle thefts and two assaults.
In 2019, he was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Hite, and he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.