Police ID man believed responsible for 9-year-old Georgia girl’s slaying more than 50 years ago

Cobb County, Georgia, District Attorney Flynn Broady gives an update Monday on the cold-case...
Cobb County, Georgia, District Attorney Flynn Broady gives an update Monday on the cold-case slaying of 9-year-old Debbie Lynn Randall.(WANF)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:34 AM CDT
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MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First/Gray News) - On Monday, Cobb County law enforcement officials revealed the identity of the man responsible for one of Marietta’s most notorious, violent murders, one that happened more than 50 years ago.

Debbie Lynn Randall, 9, was abducted, raped and killed on Jan. 13, 1972, in Marietta. Her body was found more than two weeks later not far from Windy Hill and Powers Ferry Road.

On Monday, Cobb District Attorney Flynn Broady said William Rose of Mableton was the man who abducted Debbie and killed her.

Rose committed suicide in 1974, two years after the crime. He was identified as a suspect, officials said Monday, through open source ancestry sites to which law enforcement has access. Rose’s family, officials said, was cooperative with their investigation, and had no idea Rose was involved in the Debbie’s abduction and death.

Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 13, 1972, she went to the laundromat with her stepfather; he left soon after, but the laundromat was only half a block from her family’s apartment.

Around 8:30 p.m., the girl’s mother became concerned. She went to the laundromat searching for her daughter, and an employee told her the girl had left about an hour before.

Spilled laundry detergent was found in a parking lot across the street from the girl’s home. Two youths reported seeing a dark pickup truck in the area and said it had quickly backed up to the area where the detergent was found and drove away quickly.

A group of Southern Tech students found the girl’s body on Jan. 29.

The Cobb County Cold Case Unit received the case in 2015. Evidence recovered from the scene was sent for updated DNA analysis with no results.

Years later, officials said Monday, a familial DNA profile was found. The suspect’s body was exhumed, and DNA tests confirmed Rose was responsible for Debbie’s death, Broady said. Police confirmed Rose had acquaintances who lived in the same complex as the 9-year-old.

Both Debbie’s mother and father died without knowing who killed their daughter.