Suspect Named In Murder Of Teens 37 Years Ago

Scott Lettieri
December 17, 2019 - 3:20 pm
DNA leads Fremont police to suspect in murder of two teens in 1982

Fremont Police Department

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Fremont police have identified a suspect in the double murder of two 16-year-olds 37 years after their deaths. 

DNA evidence links Clifford Hudspeth to the murder of cousins Mary Jane Malatag and Jeffrey Atup, according to police. The teens were found dead on the morning of Dec. 20, 1982.

Clifford Hudspeth has been identified as a suspect in a 1982 double homicide through DNA evidence
Fremont Police Department

Atup's body was found near the intersection of Green Valley Road and Scott Creek Road in Fremont near the Milpitas border. A couple hours later, Malatag was found about four miles away near the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Hunter Lane. Both had noticeable injuries and police quickly determined that they had been murdered.

The two were last seen walking to Atup’s home in Milpitas in the early morning of Dec. 20. 

Despite an extensive investigation at the time, the case went cold. As DNA technology became more prevalent, detectives were able to identify genetic evidence in 1999 but could not find a match to a possible suspect.

The case went cold again until 2018 when Fremont Cold Case Homicide Detective Jacob Blass discovered the strength of the evidence in the case.

“If we think the DNA that we have is good enough for that kind of technology, such as this genetic genealogy, then we definitely push ahead with it,” said Blass. He used the same process that detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s office used to identify Joseph DeAngelo as the suspect in the Golden State Killer case.

The DNA led Blass to a family line with about 400 members. From there he narrowed down the list to Clifton Hudspeth, who had died in 1999 at the age of 48. At the time of the murders, he lived in Milpitas just a short distance from where Atup’s body was found and had a long history of violence including bank robberies, sexual assaults and attempted homicide.

“We went ahead and we exhumed Mr. Hudspeth’s body and was able to prove 100% that he is our suspect in this case,” said Blass.

Police believe he acted alone and have notified his family of their findings.

“We are attempting to put our lives back together as we re-mourn the loss of our beloveds Jeffrey Atup and Mary Jane Malatag," the victims' families said in a statement. "We will be forever thankful to Detective Blass in never forgetting about these two innocent children.”