Central Valley

Governor offers $50,000 rewards for unsolved Stanislaus County murders

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today offered $50,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever was responsible for two Modesto-area killings years ago.

The governor's office said both cases were referred to Schwarzenegger from Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. The cold cases are:

- On July 16, 1975, the body of 17-year-old Donna Joann Peeples was found by a farmworker in a vineyard at Maze Boulevard and Dakota Avenue. She was wearing a rustcolored patchwork midriff shirt that tied in front, tan corduroy pants and green socks.

Investigators believe Peeples was killed elsewhere and her body dumped in the vineyard. She had been beaten and strangled, but not sexually assaulted.

Homicide detectives have said they believe Peeples knew her killer or killers. She was married but she and her husband, Leonard Peeples, were separated and she was living at home with her parents.

- On Aug. 31, 2005, Betty Elinburg, 80, was found unconscious in her home south of Hatch Road and west of Crows Landing Road. She had been assaulted while she slept and suffered severe head injuries.

One Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department detective called it the most brutal case he ever investigated. Detectives thought it was a burglary “gone bad.”

Elinburg never recovered, struggling with strokes, dementia and fear until she died at Vintage Faire Rehabilitation & Nursing on May 7, 2006.

Under the Governor's Reward program, 249 rewards have been offered since 1967 and 19 have been paid.

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