Richard Archibeque

I am a big advocate of DNA.  I think it has done wonders in finding perpetrators as well as exonerating people.  There are the occasional cases in which I do not find the presence of DNA is not necessarily useful such in cases of people who are murdered in their home and another household members DNA is found. In those cases I want more than DNA.  DNA results also often worry me in old cases.  I realize that over the years that the process in which DNA is analyzed and the amount needed to get results have changed.  It is just the older cases in which I worry more about contamination, both at the crime scene and the lab and to be truthful in the accuracy of the results are at least the results given.  This is a case in which DNA was what was ultimately used to obtain a conviction, thirty years after the murder.  

On September 9, 1977 seventeen year old Mary Quigley went to a big back to school party in Santa Clara California. No one is quite sure when she left the party.  Some say it was just before midnight where others say it could have been as early as 10 pm.  The following morning, around dawn, the groundskeeper from a park located just across the street from where the party had been noticed something in the distance on the fence but it was not until noon that he made his way out there.  When he did he would discover Mary Quigley's body, naked aside from shoes and socks and hanging with her own clothes.  

Everyone from the party was interviewed as well as other family, friends and neighbors. One party goer would claim to have seen Mary earlier in the night speaking with four men, three of which were described as having Derby Jackets while the forth had on a t-shirt.  It would be theorized that at least two of those men were Richard Cortes and Manuel Oliveira, both of which who had been at the party.  A neighbor would say that sometime between 10 pm and midnight she had been awoken by a barking dog and had looked out her window.  She would say she saw four men (described with the same clothing) speaking to a young girl just near the scene in which Mary's body was found.  The discussion between the four seemed to get very loud and it appeared to the neighbor, or so she would say thirty years later but claim she had told police in 1977, that the men were attempting to get the woman to go with them.  A short time later a car of girls pulled up and asked the young girl if she wanted to leave with them and the girl replied no, that she was fine.  The neighbor says she then went to back to bed.  

For nearly thirty years there were no clues into the murder of Mary Quigley.  An autopsy had been performed on the body and it was reported that there had been no recent injuries to the genital area but there had been semen found on her vaginal area.  There was also semen in her underwear that had been placed inside the leg of one of her jeans.  The two semen samples did not match each other and it was theorized that the semen that was on her body had been placed there after the removal of her underwear although the pathologist could only say that the semen had been left within the last 72 hours.

In December of 2006 after a law had been passed requiring all convicted felons to give a sample of their DNA to be held in a database a match was found to the semen that was on Mary's body.  It belonged to Richard Archibeque.  Richard had been a classmate of Mary's but they had not necessarily been friends or hung out with the same crowds.  In 1980 Richard had been convicted of raping a sixteen year old girl.  By this time Richard had a glass eye in which it made his identification much easier for the witness.  Richard had served his time and had since married, divorced and had a child. 

Investigators charged Richard Archibeque with the murder of Mary Quigly.  He would face trial in February of 2009.  The prosecution would all but hang their hat on the DNA found on her body.  The DNA in her underwear had also been tested but did not match Richard.  Nor did it match Cortes, Oliveira or any of the other males that had been known to be friends with Mary and had been tested.  

For the defense's part it seemed that they believed Manuel Oliveira was the perpetrator.  By this time Oliveira had died.  I attempted to get more information on Oliveira but was unable to find much of anything.  Although it did not come right out and say, my research did indicate that his death may have been from suicide.  The defense would claim that the DNA that had been matched to Richard had come from consensual sex between the two prior to her murder.  They apparently did not feel as the investigators did that the semen linked to Richard had to be deposited by her killer.  

It appears that the prosecution only had the DNA evidence pertaining to this case and from all that I could determine the only DNA match came from the semen on the body. As I stated the semen on the underwear was tested also but as far as other things, such as her clothing, or even under her fingernails I found no reference to.  The prosecution also had the victim from Richard's 1980 conviction to testify.

The defense had a few things going for them.  They had the neighbor who testified about seeing the woman (who she believed to be Mary) with the four young men but she stated she did not see their faces clear enough to identify them.  The defense would have one believe that these four men were likely the same four men she was seen talking to at the party.  A man named Carlos Berrelez testified that a few days after Mary's murder he had talked to Manuel Oliveira and he told Carlos that he had done something wrong and was going to shoot himself.  According to Berrelez Richard Cortes was there also and stated something along the lines of staying quiet.  Richard Cortes would claim that he believed that same conversation that Berrelez was referring to happened a few years later and had pertained to an argument Oliveira had had with his wife.  Cortes would testify he was unsure that Berrelez was present for that conversation.  

The defense also called a man named David Rivera to the stand.  It appears that Rivera was in and out of prison.  In fact, one of the main reasons he was never a suspect in this case was he was in prison at the time of the murder.  He was again serving time in 1987 on a rape conviction at a time in which Oliveira was also in jail (I found nothing to say what his charges were).  Rivera was arrested again in 1989 on a drug charge and would tell investigators that in 1987 when he had served with Oliveira he had implied that he had killed a woman.  The problem was that Oliveira never confessed or told any details so there is no way of knowing if he was referring to Mary Quigley.  Keep in mind however that while I stated I am unsure of any other DNA testing done other than on semen collected and even then there was not a match to Oliveira.  

As stated earlier the defense would claim that the DNA was deposited during consensual sex between Mary and Richard.  They would also point out that the medical examiner had stated there was no trauma or injuries to her vaginal or anal area, hence there appeared to be no rape despite the prosecution claiming that she had been raped before she was strangled.

In the end the jury convicted Richard on March 2, 2009 of first degree murder after three days of deliberation.  He was later sentenced to serve seven years to life.  In 2010 the appeals court affirmed his conviction and sentence.  One of the issues on appeal was the fact of his 1980 victim testifying at the trial.  The appeals court apparently found this harmless.  I am unsure that I agree, but that is not for me to decide.  The California Department of Corrections website only allows you to know if a prisoner is still in the system and their location and little more.  At this time Richard Archibeque is still in the prison system and I can only assume still serving his sentence from this conviction although to be honest I cannot be sure of that.  

I am a bit on the fence with this one if you could not tell.  The DNA match is compelling, I do admit that.  I also lean towards the investigators theory that because the DNA was not on the underwear that it likely happened at the time of her murder.  But I am also curious about these four men who were mentioned twice by independent people.  Yes, it appears that the other DNA did not match Oliveira or Cortes or anyone else that was tested, but in the same respect it leaves unknown DNA available at the scene.  There was seemingly no one that could connect Richard and Mary at any point.  I am also not sure that I do not feel that the testimony of his previous victim was not prejudice to him.  He served approximately two years for that crime and from then on seemed to lead a normal, healthy life.  I realize that this crime happened before the one in 1980 and not after, but I have questions.  

What matters the most is that a seventeen year old girl lost her life and faced a bitter and horrendous end to her life.  The park in which she was found has placed a plaque in her honor.  There are hopes that it will one day be upgraded and named after her.


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