A convicted felon who was a suspect in the kidnapping and killing of a Swedish exchange student who disappeared in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982 has long been dead, authorities say.
Henry Lee Coleman died Feb. 5, 1988, a Social Security Administration spokeswoman told The Marin Independent Journal. There was no record on where he died or a cause of death.
The U.S. Department of Justice matched seven bones discovered in a Fremont canyon five years ago to Elisabeth Martinsson. She was living with a family in Marin when she disappeared.
Martinsson’s identity was released publicly last month. A cause of death was never determined.
When she disappeared, Martinsson had gone to the store in a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit she borrowed from the family she was living with.
Ten days later, police stopped the car in Boise City, Oklahoma, and found a man at the wheel and a woman in the passenger seat.
The couple initially lied to police about their identities and sped off while officers were talking to them. They were later arrested, and police determined the driver was Coleman, a then-31-year-old convicted rapist.
Coleman had served 10 years in prison on rape convictions in Oklahoma and was wanted on a robbery warrant out of San Bernardino County, authorities said.
The passenger was a woman he picked up in Seattle before driving east. Prosecutors dropped the case against the woman for lack of evidence, while Coleman was tried on auto theft charges but not for Martinsson’s killing.
During court proceedings, a witness said she saw a man resembling Coleman approach a young woman resembling Martinsson at Larkspur Landing, and they got in a yellow car like the one Martinsson was driving.
Coleman eventually was convicted of auto theft and went to prison.
Jeffrey Callison, a state prisons department spokesman, said Coleman was as paroled in October 1986 and released from parole monitoring in November 1987.
Martinsson’s remains were cremated for transportation to family members in Sweden.
Martinsson was from Uddevalla, a small town about 50 miles from the Norwegian border, and her ashes will be buried at her parents’ gravesite. Her brothers in Sweden declined to speak to The Associated Press.