Former LASD detective axed by budget cuts helps solve a 24-year-old homicide

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was subject to deep budget cuts as of July 1. Among the personnel who were cut from payroll were all but one of LASD’s 13 cold case detectives. But one of those detectives, Joe Purcell, continued working on his own time in the hopes of closing a decades-old murder case.

Purcell’s work paid off. Last Thursday, David Adolph Bernal was charged with the 1996 murder of Mary Lindgren, 67, who was a resident at the Covina Villa Retirement Home when she was killed by an intruder.

Like so many cold cases, Lindgren’s homicide was solved with the help of DNA. Detectives were already closing in on the killer when Purcell was laid off, but there were loose ends to be tied up to bring the case to a close. Even without a paycheck, Purcell was determined to see it through.

“He hasn't been employed here since July 1st, yet he still comes to work every day to finish this case," LASD Homicide Captain Kent Wegener told ABC Eyewitness News.

“He wasn't getting paid anymore. But he stayed on my mom's case and worked it for free,” said Don Lindgren, the victim’s son.

Bernal is now being held on $2 million bail. If convicted, Bernal faces life in prison or possibly the death penalty.