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Man charged in 1982 murder of Idaho 9-year-old

Daralyn Johnson disappeared nearly 40 years ago as she walked to school at Lincoln Elementary. Her body was found days later next to the Snake River.

NAMPA, Idaho — Almost 40 years after a 9-year-old Nampa girl was found dead, the man detectives say is responsible has been formally charged in her murder. 

David Dalrymple, 64, is facing charges of first-degree murder and rape in the death of Daralyn Johnson, who disappeared on Feb. 24, 1982 as she walked to school at Lincoln Elementary.

A massive search for the Nampa girl ended three days later, when a fisherman found her body next to the Snake River. An autopsy revealed that the child had been sexually assaulted and had suffered blunt force injuries to her torso and her head. 

DNA evidence linked Dalrymple to the murder in 2020. The suspect is currently serving a 20-to-life prison sentence for the kidnapping and sexual abuse of another child in 2004.

Credit: Idaho Department of Correction
David Allen Dalrymple

According to Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, investigators have learned of two other girls between the ages of nine and 11 who may have been molested by Dalrymple.

An innocent man, then 34-year-old Charles Fain, was arrested and ultimately convicted of the child's murder. He was sentenced to death row, but was exonerated and released in 2001 after DNA evidence from hairs found at the scene was tested, and excluded him as the killer.

Greg Hampikian, a co-director with Idaho Innocence Project (IIP), started working with Fain in 2007 to help get him compensation for his wrongful conviction. He's worked on dozens of other cases throughout his 20 years working in forensics biology but said nothing quite stands out like this case.

"We're so sure that if we kept going with this the science would open up," Hampikian said. "That's what we kept assuring the investigators, 'You've got to be patient. Don't burn through all your evidence.'"

Hampikian said researchers and investigators were very limited on information while testing the hair found on Johnson's body because it was without its root. He told KTVB investigators would bring him new suspect samples, but were not able to find a match.

However, comparing evidence and collecting data collaboration seemed to make more progress after Hampikian collaborated with a colleague from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Ed Green. Hampikian said found out a new technique used on ancient DNA to find new data.

"The idea was to take the DNA left of the pubic hair left on the child, you treat it like ancient DNA and you get enough information of, what we call, single nucleotide polymorphism - the kind of DNA 23andMe use for their data," Hampikian explained. "Then you go to public databases to try to find the last name or a lineage of the person who left the pubic hair." 

"That's what was done in this case."

The data eventually led Canyon County's Sheriff's Office to link Dalrymple to the crime in 2020.

"This was a great end to the science part of it," Hampikian said. "Charles Fain always reminds me that we have to first and foremost think about the victim and the victim's family." 

Hampikian said he is still in contact with Fain, who he describes as a calm and private person. He saw him about three months ago and said he looked happy and just bought a truck. 

"Charles is a quiet man who wanted to live a quiet life and now he is able to do that," Hampikian said.

Last June, Fain was issued nearly $1.4 million in compensation because of the Idaho Wrongful Conviction Act.

Dalrymple is set for a preliminary hearing Jan. 25. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or another life sentence. 

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