VALLEJO — A Fairfield man who beat and killed his live-in girlfriend in 1996 was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life in prison.
“Our family has waited for close to 17 years for justice,” said the mother of Danna Dever, whose unidentified, mummified remains were found in a ravine south of Dixon several weeks after her disappearance in June 1996.
Lonnie J. Kerley, 53, who had a history of domestic violence with Dever, the mother of their daughter, was long suspected by law enforcement as a suspect in Dever’s disappearance.
He first reported her disappearance to authorities six weeks after he claimed she just walked out the door of their Cordelia home one morning and never returned. While Dever’s remains were discovered, they went unidentified until 2007 when investigators reopened the cold case. The investigation stalled again but was reopened again in 2010 when Kerley was arrested.
A Solano County grand jury in 2011 handed down an indictment charging Kerley with second-degree murder. After a two-month trial, a jury came back with a guilty verdict earlier this month.
Dever’s mother and other relatives praised the work of prosecutors Krishna Abrams and Julie Underwood who worked the case with Fairfield police and Solano County sheriff’s deputies for nearly three years.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.