RPD seeks tips & answers in decades-old murder of girl, 15

REDDING — Authorities in Redding have asked for the public’s help re-vitalizing a 43-year-old cold case murder that stole the life of 15-year-old, Terri Lynn Ray back in 1976.

Although officials say that officers and detectives followed up on numerous leads at the time, even arresting and holding two people for a short time in the months following the grisly homicide, those leads never panned out or led to anyone being held to answer for Terri’s murder.


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Redding PD began investigating the now decades-old murder of the Redding teen, after the young victim’s body was discovered July 7, 1976.

According to an RPD release today asking for the public’s assistance in turning up the heat on the cold case investigation, the victim’s lifeless body was found with multiple stab wounds at a popular swimming hole in Clear Creek, near the Clear Creek Bridge on State Route 273, in Redding.

Officials are hoping for new leads in the 46-year-old cold case murder investigation of 15-year-old, Terri Lynn Ray, whose body was found in a popular Clear Creek swimming hole in 1976.

Terri had been stabbed 15 times, with many of her injuries on her hands and arms, “as if she’d tried to block the blade as her attacker slashed at her again and again,” Record Searchlight reported in 2006, after the 30th anniversary of the girl’s murder.

Police interviewed several of Terri’s friends and acquaintances in the weeks and months following Terri’s murder and several were given lie detector tests, but all had credible alibis.

Although Redding PD’s investigation eventually led to two separate and unrelated arrests, those alleged suspects – a 17-year-old boy and 18-year-old woman who was a minor at the time of the murder – were eventually released after further investigation exonerated them.

“Investigators aggressively worked the case,” RPD explained in today’s release. “But over time the number of leads declined and the case went cold.”

Forty-six years later, her case is still open.

A “free spirit”

News reports at the time described Terri as “a free spirit,” who reportedly loved horses and wanted to become a veterinarian.

She was also known for pinning notes of inspiration all over the walls of her bedroom.

One note which read, “The best things in life aren’t free … but the best thing in life is freedom,” is now the inscription on her headstone.

Terri was last seen the night before her body was discovered, when she went for a walk with her dog. She was never seen alive again.

Police once again asking for help finding answers – and a killer

The knife the murderer used to kill Terri was never found and her exact place of death was never determined, according to officials.

Redding Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in solving this crime and a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the Shasta County Secret Witness for information leading to the arrest of the suspect in this case.

Anyone with information regarding this ongoing murder investigation is encouraged to call Redding Police Department at (530) 225-4200, Shasta County Secret Witness at (530) 243-2319, or email the department at coldcases@reddingpolice.org. Callers can refer to incident file number 76-15682 and can remain anonymous.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.


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