Kenneth Marks

The Newport Beach Police Department announced on August 9, 2021 that Kenneth Elwin Marks has been identified as the lead suspect in the November 26, 1980 murder of 42-year-old Judith (“Judy”) Conklin Nesbitt in Newport Beach, California. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Marks.

The afternoon she was killed, Nesbitt had met a potential buyer and showed him her boat, the Felicidad IV, at the Marina Dunes. She was attacked by the man in the bedroom of the boat, and shot after a violent struggle. The killer stole some items from her purse, including some credit cards, cash, and her check book.

The FGG investigation was conducted by CeCe Moore of Parabon Nanolabs. This is one of the first FGG investigations to use rootless human hairs collected at the crime scene to produce a forensic-quality DNA profile. A DNA profile was obtained from the roots of the hair in 2002 and uploaded into CODIS, but this produced no new leads.
A new DNA profile was obtained from the rootless hair shafts in 2018 by Dr. Ed Green of Green Laboratories, who has pioneered the technique of extracting forensic DNA profiles from rootless hair shafts. Dr. Green has previously worked with Barbara Rae-Venter on the identification of the Clearfield Rapist case and the Bear Brook murders, although this appears to be the first time that a criminal FGG investigation has been solved through a DNA profile obtained from a rootless hair shaft. These are techniques that Green developed while working with Svante Pääbo on ancient DNA at the Max Plank Institute.

Marks is reported to have died from cancer in 1999 at the age of 44 years.


Lloyd, Jonathan. “‘He No Longer Gets to Hold the Secret’: Killer ID’d in 1980 Cold Case Murder on Boat.” NBC News 4, August 9, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021.

Ludwig, Ashley. “Cold Case: Judy Nesbitt’s Murder in Newport Beach Solved with DNA.” Patch. August 9, 2021, Accessed August 10, 2021.

Newport Indy Staff. “Killer Identified in 1980 Newport Beach Cold Case Murder.” Newport Beach Independent, August 9, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021.

Rasmussen, Emily. “DNA Identifies Suspected Killer in 1980 Newport Beach Cold Case, Police Say.” Orange County Register, August 9, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021.

Townsend, Peggy. “Beating Crime by a Hair.” UC Santa Cruz Magazine, February 2020. Accessed August 10, 2021.


First Name Kenneth
Last Name Marks
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2021-08-09
IGG Org CeCe Moore


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1513 Judith Nesbitt 42 1980-11-26 Newport Beach, CA Newport Beach PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.