9-year-old’s murder haunted Cobb community for 51 years – her alleged killer has now been identified

MARIETTA, Ga. — More than 50 years after a 9-year-old girl was abducted, raped and killed, cold case detectives have identified her alleged killer.

Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell attended a news conference on Monday where the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced it has identified William Rose as the suspect in Debbie Lynn Randall’s murder.

Randall disappeared on January 13, 1972 as she was walking back from a laundromat less than a block away from her home. After thousands participated in the search, police found Randall’s body near Windy Hill Road and Powers Ferry Road 16 days later.

Police determined that Randall died from strangulation. Detectives investigated hundreds of leads, but the case eventually went cold with no suspect identified.

In October 2001, detectives sent a hair removed from Randall’s body to a lab for DNA testing. In May 2015, a piece of clothing from Randall was sent out for an updated test.

Both pieces of evidence created a partial profile of a suspect. Detectives eventually narrowed it down to Rose, who they learned committed suicide in 1974, two years after Randall’s murder.

Rose’s family cooperated with officials, who exhumed Rose’s body and confirmed a DNA match. At the news conference Monday, Cobb County DA Flynn D. Broady Jr. expressed sorrow for Randall’s parents.

Her mother Juanita died of leukemia in 2018 and her father, John, died in 2022.

“The loss of a loved one, especially one of such a tender age is difficult to comprehend. This family has waited for decades for an answer. This information will not replace the pain of losing Debbie Lynn. We are very grateful for the unwavering dedication, persistence and commitment from Det. Ron Alter of the Cold Case Unit and all our partner agencies to provide some closure to this case,” said Cobb District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, Jr. “The mission of our office is to deliver justice regardless of how much time has passed. In this case, the suspect took his own life two years after the death of the Debbie Lynn Randall.”

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