“Blood in the Sand”: 48 Hours Reports on Barbara Nantais & Claire Hough Homicides July 6 2024

On July 6, 2024, “48 Hours” will air an encore presentation of its gripping episode “Blood in the Sand.” This episode delves into the tragic and mysterious murders of two teenage girls on a California beach, crimes separated by six years but eerily similar in nature. The episode examines whether a serial killer was behind these brutal acts or if a more complex explanation exists. Utilizing new DNA technology and investigative techniques, the show uncovers shocking details that prompted law enforcement to reexamine the case, including potential involvement of one of their own.

The Murder of Barbara Nantais

Barbara Nantais was a vibrant 15-year-old girl with a zest for life. On the night of August 12, 1978, she and her boyfriend, Jim Alt, decided to spend the night on Torrey Pines State Beach, a place that held many fond memories for them. The beach was bustling with activity that night, but as the evening progressed, the couple sought some privacy, zipped their sleeping bags together, and went to sleep.

The next morning, Alt woke up disoriented, cold, and covered in blood. He frantically searched for Barbara, only to find her lifeless, mutilated body nearby. Barbara had been beaten, raped, and brutally murdered. Alt, who had suffered severe head injuries, was ruled out as a suspect due to the extent of his wounds. The investigation, led by Sergeant Paul Ybarrondo, revealed that Barbara had been subjected to extreme violence and mutilation, making it a challenging case for the police.

The Tragic Case of Claire Hough

Six years later, in August 1984, 14-year-old Claire Hough was visiting her grandparents near Torrey Pines Beach. Like Barbara, Claire loved the beach and often spent time there with her friends. One night, she decided to visit the beach alone, breaking a promise she had made to her friend, Kim Jamer. Claire’s body was discovered by a beachcomber, just a few hundred yards from where Barbara Nantais had been killed.

Claire’s murder bore striking similarities to Barbara’s. She had been beaten, strangled, sexually assaulted, and her breast had been mutilated in the same manner. These similarities led investigators to believe that the same person might be responsible for both murders. The case, however, went cold, with no substantial leads or suspects.

The Breakthrough and the Suspects

In 2012, advancements in DNA technology prompted investigators to reopen the cases. New tests on the evidence from Claire Hough’s murder led to two significant DNA matches: Ronald Tatro, a convicted rapist, and Kevin Brown, a former criminalist with the San Diego Police Department. Tatro had died in what appeared to be a boating accident in 2011, leaving Brown as the primary suspect.

Kevin Brown’s DNA was found on a swab from Claire Hough’s body, but Brown denied any involvement, claiming contamination due to poor lab practices. Despite his assertions, the investigation continued, and Brown’s behavior and past actions were scrutinized. Brown had a reputation for visiting strip clubs and attending risqué photo shoots, which investigators believed could indicate a darker side.

The Tragic Conclusion

The investigation took a toll on Kevin Brown, who had always maintained his innocence. In October 2014, overwhelmed by the stress and accusations, Brown took his own life. Shortly after his death, the San Diego Police Department publicly named him as one of the suspects in Claire Hough’s murder, a move that was met with outrage from his widow, Rebecca Brown. She has since filed a lawsuit against the police, alleging misconduct and wrongful death.

Questions Remain

While the San Diego Police Department considers Claire Hough’s case closed, questions linger, especially for Barbara Nantais’ family. The investigation revealed that Ronald Tatro was in prison during Barbara’s murder, and Kevin Brown was attending college far from the crime scene, leaving Barbara’s case unsolved. The lack of closure continues to haunt her family and friends, who still seek answers and justice.

“48 Hours: Blood in the Sand” provides a detailed exploration of these tragic cases, shedding light on the complexities of criminal investigations and the relentless pursuit of justice. Tune in on July 6, 2024, at 10:00 PM ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ to witness this haunting story unfold.

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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