Art and Lois Serrin leave their hometown of Carlsbad, California, on Valentine’s Day each and every year. This isn’t because they’re going on a romantic getaway but because that specific day triggers horrific memories of the day their only daughter was brutally murdered.
Art and Lois Serrin had a 39-year-old daughter called Jodine Serrin. Jodie suffered from mental disabilities but despite these ailments, she was highly functioning and was able to live independently and had her own condominium on the 1900 block of Swallow Lane. While Jodine could live by herself, she did depend on her parents for certain things such as driving her to and from appointments. Jodine was active in the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Mariposa Club, and Friends Club House and was described as a neighbour as being “ral sweet, pretty low profile for the most part.1
On Valentine’s Day of 2007, Art and Lois celebrated the day by going for dinner and then catching a movie at the local cinema. Although she was having a pleasant time with her husband, Lois couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was wrong. It was around 10PM when the movie finished and the couple decided they would go and check on Jodine. The last time they communicated with her was the night before and it was rare for them to go an entire day without chatting with one another. As Art and Lois knocked on Jodine’s front door, they received no reply. The couple had a spare key which they attempted to use to gain entry into their daughter’s home but the chain was on the latch. They noticed that all of the lights were on and called her name through the partially opened door but once again, received no reply. As their concern grew, Art forced the door open, breaking the lock.
“The lights were on; everything seemed normal,” said Lois. “We were thinking she was in bed or in the shower.:2 After entering Jodine’s condominium, they went to her bedroom and pushed open the door. It was here that they saw a semi-naked man on top of Jodine in bed. Assuming they were interrupting an intimate moment between their daughter and a partner, they rushed outside to another part of the condominium, their faces blushing with embarrassment. As the minutes ticked by and there was still no movement coming from the bedroom, Art and Lois knocked on Jodine’s bedroom door. After receiving no reply, they slowly opened the bedroom door. Nothing could have prepared the couple for what happened next…
Upon entering the bedroom, the couple found the man gone and Jodine lying motionless on her bed. Art grabbed Jodine and placed her on the floor and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It was far too late for revival, however. Jodine was dead; she was cold to the touch, indicating that she had been killed hours beforehand. She had been viciously bludgeoned and strangled to death. The man who Art and Lois had seen on top of their daughter in the bedroom was her killer and what was taking place was not consensual sex: it was necrophilia.
An investigation of the crime scene was unable to uncover an entry or exit point for the killer. No windows in the bedroom had been broken or forced open and there was no sign of forced entry at the door. Despite this, investigators refused to rule out a forced entry. As for an exit point, after Art and Lois left the bedroom, they went to a section of the condominium where they were unable to see the bedroom door or front door indicating that the killer had brazenly snuck out the front door. Nothing in the condominium appeared to be missing, ruling out a robbery gone wrong. Unknown male DNA was found at the crime scene but when ran through the state database, it turned up no matches. |We’ve got some DNA profiles, but no match,” said Carlsbad Police Lt. Kelly Cain. “It’s evidence sufficient to identify someone, if we get a match.”3
Jodine’s murder was the city’s second homicide that year. The first happened on the 19th of January when James Jay Wendal was shot dead following a dispute with another man. The murder stunned the residents in the large and upscale condominium complex where Jodine had lived and died. Police were quick to assure the residents that this was not a case of an intruder attacking somebody at home but that Jodine had likely known her killer. A neighbour of Jodine, Samantha Raymond, would tell police that she saw a man running down an embankment near her apartment on the night that Jodine was murdered. She said that due to the speed he was running at, she couldn’t get a clear picture of his face.
There was much speculation that Jodine willingly opened the door to her killer, implying that it could have been someone Jodine knew. Art told police that he thought he recognized the man as somebody Jodine knew through her circle of disabled friends. He said that if it was this man, he didn’t have a car and used public transport or a bicycle. When this man was identified, he provided a DNA sample which did not match that found at the crime scene and he was ruled out.
A decade went past with little to no suspects emerging. But forensic science has come a long way since that fateful night in 2007. In 2017, innovative DNA technology, Parabon NanoLabs, was able to transform genetic material found at the crime scene into a digital image of the suspect. This advanced process predicts an unknown suspect’s skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, gender, ancestry, and face shape. According to its analysis, the suspect has fair to light skin, green or blue eyes, blonde or brown hair and some freckles. He is likely in his 30s to 40s and of Northern European descent. According to Art and Lois, the man they saw in Jodine’s bedroom was a heavyset man with a large stomach and disheveled hair. They estimated that he was around 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall. “We believe the suspect was an acquaintance of, or had just met the victim,” said Tony Johnston, an investigator with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.
The advancement in DNA technology and the image created by Parabon NanoLabs has given Art and Lois hope that one day their daughter’s murder can finally be solved. There is currently a $52,000 reward for information that could lead to the apprehension and conviction of Jodine Serrin’s killer. Anybody with any information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.
- Woman Found Dead in Carlsbad Condominium”
- North County Times, 13 February, 2011 – “Police Seek Clues in Valentine’s Day Homicide”
- Nort County Times, 19 April. 2007 – “Police Seek More Information in Carlsbad Homicide”