By Naptime Nancy
Patty Lee Kuzara was just shy of turning eight years old when her life was stolen from her and her family. She was being babysat off Lola Way, near what is now the Van Dam Peak Trailhead, in Poway, CA. Her mother tried to pick her up, but no one was home at the sitter’s home. When Nancy Kuzara was able to get ahold of Patty on the phone, she was frustrated that Patty had not been ready to go and told her to walk the two and a half miles home from her babysitter’s home on Lola Way to her home off Putney Road. Considering this was 1974, it wasn’t uncommon to let children walk alone by themselves.
At approximately 6pm on September 28th, 1974, Patty Lee Kuzara walked home clutching her red and black blanket. Clad in overalls and a gold top, she turned onto Hilleary road toward Midland road. She was only about a half mile from her home when it is presumed someone approached Patty and took her into the field across from the First Baptist Church. It was not uncommon for kids to play in this field, but it was highly unlikely that Patty would have stopped to play knowing that she was already late getting home. Nancy has also told her daughter never to play in this field. Patty’s mother took off on foot to meet up with her daughter so she wouldn’t have to walk the whole way home alone. Sadly, Nancy Kuzara took off in the opposite direction and they missed each other. By 7:45pm, Nancy Kuzara called police to report her daughter missing. More than 50 San Diego reserve officers and volunteers scoured the area. It wasn’t until 10:30AM Sunday morning, that a group of church going teenage boys discovered Patty Lee’s tiny body in the brush of the field. Had Patty been found just 50 feet further, she would have been on federal land. Patty’s father, Dennis Kuzara, came home from a trip with the Sierra Club to find his home flooded with people as the tragic news was broken to him.
Patty had been sexually assaulted and bludgeoned with an angle iron. No murder weapon was taken from the scene initially. The angle iron in reference was found in the same field shortly thereafter, but void of evidence by this time. Mr Kuzara set up a recorder and received a phone call from a young man after Patty was murdered, asking if Patricia was there. He sent the recording off the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department but they apparently deemed it a wrong number. There is no DNA sample available for Patty’s case thus far. The only way to hold out hope for a viable DNA sample is if newer technology is miraculously able to detect Patty’s killer on what’s left of the evidence. Dennis Kuzara has even offered to help fund for DNA testing in the past, but the offer was declined by law enforcement. This is why accurate information being shared and the right people coming forward with tips is so important.
Patty was cremated and laid to rest in Wyoming, where much of her family is from. This September will mark 45 years since Patricia Lee Kuzara was murdered. Who stole this little girl from her family? Someone knows. This case also needs the forensic attention of services like M-Vac Systems to attempt to obtain a DNA sample, if such services have not already been attempted. Please turn your tips into San Diego Sheriff’s Homicide Unit (858)-974-232 or send tips anonymously to (858)-580-8477. For more information visit sdsheriff.net/ColdCase/
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