Killer pleads no contest in 1986 murder

A man accused of raping and killing a Ben Lomond teenager in 1986 and then dumping her body in a remote part of San Mateo County pleaded no contest to a first-degree murder charge in court Thursday, according to prosecutors.

John William Kelley, 52, of Placerville, also admitted to killing 17-year-old Annette Thur while he was in the course of forcibly raping and sodomizing her, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Kelley was arrested in Placerville in 2012 after the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office reopened the unsolved case and connected Kelley with DNA evidence found in fluid collected from the victim, according to Wagstaffe:

“What really mattered to the family, is that they got to know without question what happened to their daughter … ¬†That’s a wonderful thing to give them closure.”

In 1986, Kelley, who was 23 at the time, was married and living in Ben Lomond, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 8, 1986, during the early morning hours, Annette Thur had attended a party in Boulder Creek and decided to hitchhike back to her home, according to prosecutors.

Kelley picked up Thur in his car. He then kidnapped her and took her to his home, where he raped her before killing her by strangling her or smothering her, prosecutors said.

Kelley then drove Thur’s body to Skyline Boulevard in unincorporated San Mateo County and dumped it in a ravine off of the roadway.

A tourist who stopped by the area found Thur’s body a few days later, according to prosecutors.

Kelley, a registered sex offender, was convicted of rape in 1995 for a separate sexual assault in Northern California. He served state prison time for that crime and was released, prosecutors said.

Kelley is set to appear in court on August 21 for sentencing, according to Wagstaffe.¬†Kelley’s attorney was not available for comment.