San Francisco News

Church deacon arraigned in 1976 murder

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A church deacon accused of murdering an aspiring artist 33 years ago in San Francisco was arraigned in Superior Court Wednesday.

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James Lee Mayfield, 63, was arrested Monday and charged with killing 29-year-old Jenny Read more than three decades ago.

Her sister says Jenny Read was a quiet, thoughtful but vulnerable young woman. She wrote in her journal two weeks before her death that "something scary awoke me ... I am in a perishable place."

Read's sister Rebecca Medrano lives in Washington D.C. ABC7 spoke with her by phone.

"I don't know if she was stalked. I don't know the circumstances," said Medrano. "But she obviously had been afraid."

Read was a gifted young sculptor. She lived at the end of 15th Street in an artist studio complex. It is now part of the California College of the Arts.

Read's body was found in her studio on May 19, 1976.

"It was a very violent death that the young girl experienced," said homicide inspector Joe Toomey.

Read was bound, raped and stabbed 13 times with a butcher knife.

Years passed and the investigation went cold. However, investigators preserved crime scene evidence, including DNA from her killer.

Inspector Toomey re-opened the case several months ago. The DNA matched that of a registered sex offender named James Lee Mayfield. Police arrested him Monday outside the Shiloh Full Gospel Church in Bayview, where he is a deacon. Parishioners were stunned.

"You will see all the support from the congregation. You will see the people that's going to come and stand in his corner," said fellow deacon Charles Hayes.

Read's sister is grateful police never gave up.

"I've never actually had closure to this and I was very, very close to my sister, so to me it was a combination of shock and relief," said Medrano.

Mayfield returns to court Friday to enter a plea

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