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The DNA Match
John Yablonsky - Booking Photo
John Yablonsky

Rita Cobb
Rita Cobb

On Monday, September 23, 1985, the body of Rita M. Cobb was found dead inside her home in Lucerne Valley. The body was found nude in a bedroom with a metal coat hanger wrapped around her neck. By the postitioning of the body and the presence of semen on the bed spread, it appeared that Rita had been sexually assaulted.

The next day, an autopsy was conducted by Dr. Irvine Root of the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office. Dr. Root examined the body and obtained a vaginal swab from the victim. Dr. Root determined the cause of death to be “strangulation, minutes.” Detectives from the homicide detail spoke with numerous people but after all leads had been exhausted the case went cold and unsolved.

In 1990, Detective Mabry requested a laboratory analysis for semen on the vaginal swab recovered during the autopsy. In 1998, a DNA profile was developed from the sex kit and the evidence was stored.

In 2003, the extracted DNA was typed using DNA analysis. The major male DNA profile was from a single donor expected to exist in less than 1 in 6 billion Caucasian Males. This sample was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

In October 2008, John Henry Yablonsky was arrested by Long Beach Police Department for an unrelated crime. A sample of his DNA was obtained because he had previously been convicted of a felony crime in the State of California and there was no sample of his DNA on file.

Yablonsky's developed DNA profile was entered into CODIS. In January 2009, a DNA match was made through CODIS to the DNA profile developed from the sex kit recovered during the autopsy of Rita Cobb. The DNA match was to John Henry Yablonsky.

Cold Case Detectives Robert Alexander and Greg Myler were assigned the case. A criminal history for John Henry Yablonsky was obtained. In 1982, Yablonsky was arrested for Sexual Assault/Aggravated Rape in El Paso, Texas. In 1984, John Yablonsky was discharged from the U. S. Army. His father resided in Lucerne Valley back in 1984 thru 2009. Sheriff's data bases place John Yablonsky as a resident in Lucerne Valley in early 1985. In October 1996, Yablonsky was arrested for PC 261 Rape using fear / force in Long Beach California.

In March 2009, John Yablonsky was interviewed at length and subsequently arrested for the murder of Rita Cobb. It was discovered during the interview that John had previously rented Rita’s guest house about 18 months before he murdered her.

During jury trial Yablonsky was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney John Thomas and ultimately found guilty of Murder by a jury. Yablonsky was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.



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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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