1983 Murder Case is Back in News

Governor Brown Orders Retesting of Evidence

By Izabella Salinas

Chino Hills- In his last days in office, Governor Jerry Brown ordered retesting of four pieces of evidence from a 1983 Chino Hills murder case.

35 years ago, a man named Kevin Cooper was convicted for the murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica, their neighbor Christopher Hughes, and the attempted murder of their son Josh. Cooper was given the death penalty and was scheduled for execution in 2004. However, the execution was blocked due to a federal appellate court in San Francisco ordering a review of the scientific evidence.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos argues that two existing tests have proven that Cooper is the killer. The tests show that Cooper was in the Ryen home, he smoked a cigarette in the Ryen’s stolen vehicle, and Cooper’s blood, along with the blood of one of the victims, was found on an abandoned T-Shirt along the road. The new testing would reevaluate this evidence.

“The purpose of this new testing is to determine whether another suspected person’s DNA, or the DNA of any other identifiable suspect based on a match in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, is present on the items tested,” said Governor Jerry Brown in his executive order.

Cooper and his attorney argue that additional testing with new available technology will show he is in fact innocent.

This quadruple murder changed the perception of the community and instilled fear amongst people near and far.

“I never let my children sleepover at their friends’ houses solely because of this case,” said Eastvale resident Veronica Sahagun, “I heard the story and was mortified.”

Doug and Peggy Ryen’s son was the only survivor of the attack. Josh Ryen’s best friend Christopher Hughes was sleeping over the night of the murders.

“I invited my best friend Chris Hughes to spend the night at my house. If I had not, Chris would still be alive today,” said Josh in a letter to Governor Jerry Brown.

At the time, Josh was only eight years old and was initially unable to identify Kevin Cooper as the killer, but he can now positively say that Kevin Cooper is the murderer of his family and best friend.

“Kevin Cooper is a liar. He lies about everything. When he is caught in his lies, he lies more and more,” said Josh in his letter as he begs for the state of California to stop subsidizing Kevin Cooper.

“I take no position as to Mr. Cooper’s guilt or innocence at this time,” said Governor Jerry Brown.

A date for the retesting has not yet been set.

Left: Kevin Cooper was convicted for the Ryen/Hughes murders and was sentenced to death in 1985. Right: Cooper smiles from his cell on San Quentin’s Death Row in 2017.
%d bloggers like this: