The California Peace Officers’ Association statewide Awards Committee has awarded Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum and other law enforcement members assigned to a 1976 cold case murder the Association’s Outstanding Cold Case award.
Yoakum received the award Monday at a luncheon in Palm Springs, alongside other recipients who were assigned to the case: San Bernardino County Sheriff Sergeants Rob Trostle and Patty Ruiz, retired Captain Ringhoffer and investigating officers from the Glendora Police Department.
The CPOA Awards Program is the culmination of a process that annually reviews and selects only the most deserving nominations recognizing law enforcement individuals in California.
The award is based on the investigative work surrounding the 1976 murder of 18-year-old Cynthia May Hernandez. On August 26, 1976, Hernandez left her home to catch a movie at the Fox Twin Theaters in Covina. Hernandez, a recent Charter Oak High School graduate, never came home.
The next morning, her family located her unoccupied vehicle in the theater parking lot. Fearing for her safety, they immediately filed a missing person’s report with the Glendora Police Department.
Nearly 40 years after her disappearance, a suspect was formally charged in connection with the death of Hernandez.
This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum, who is assigned to the Cold Case Unit. On Oct. 17, 2016, Larry James Allred was sentenced to 7 years to life in prison for first degree murder. According to California law in 1976—at which time the crime was committed—this is the maximum sentence Allred can serve in prison.
“Securing justice for Cynthia and her family was an absolute team effort, one that involved multiple agencies,” said Yoakum. “To be recognized for those efforts is a great honor, and another chance to honor the memory of Cynthia and her family.”