Fort Worth Cold Case Solved After 36 Years

Andrew Greenstein
December 13, 2019 - 5:14 pm
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Fort Worth Police Deptartment


FORT WORTH (1080 KRLD) - Closure — but no justice — for the family of an 11-year-old girl killed in Fort Worth 36 years ago.

In 1983, Julie Fuller and her family moved to North Texas from England.

On June 27th of that year, Julie disappeared from the Kensington Motel in Arlington.

“The last time anybody saw Julie was when she went to take the trash out,” says Fort Worth Homicide Det. Thomas O’Brien.

The next day, Julie’s body was found on Handley-Ederville Rd. in Fort Worth.

More than three decades of searching for her killer through DNA testing turned up nothing.

“That evidence had been in CODIS since 2005, and we had no hits,” says O’Brien. “We had conducted a familial search in 2013 in CODIS and got no leads there as well.”

The department then turned to Virginia-based Parabon Nanolabs — and that’s what led to the identity of Julie’s killer, James McNichols.

“They conducted genetic genealogy to help identify a lead that got us to this individual,” says Det. O’Brien.

However, he will never be brought to justice.

“He actually had passed from natural causes back in 2004 in Iowa,” O’Brien says.

When O’Brien told McNichols’ relatives, they seemed to react indifferently.

“The mother and the kids had left probably before this happened in 1983, and they had moved out of state,” says O’Brien. “And so they really didn't have any relationship with him.”

One person who did not react indifferently was Julie’s older brother, Lee Fuller.

“I'm obviously glad he's dead,” Fuller told KRLD from his home in Virginia. “I think that saves a lot of pain for my mom and dad having to go through something else.”

Fuller says it’s a shame that McNichols died of natural causes.

“I wish it had been a more painful death and not a natural death as it turned out, but at least he’s not around,” says Fuller.

Still, Fuller says the discovery of the killer, although he will not face justice for his heinous crime, brings a sense of closure.

“The fact that the name is out there and it's on the record, that at least gets (us) some solace in that,” Fuller says.

Fuller says he and his family are very grateful for the work that the Fort Worth Police Department did all these decades.

“It's shocking that we've managed to get to some kind of answers after so much time has passed,” says Fuller.

O’Brien gives credit where the credit, he says, is due.

“100% the credit goes to Parabon Nanolabs,” says O’Brien. “This case never would have been solved if it wasn't for them being involved in this case.”