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Valley man seeks answers in 1978 cold case murder

By Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 Reporter & Sports Anchor, glee@kesq.com
Published On: Feb 27 2013 08:28:59 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 27 2013 08:35:29 PM CST
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -

A 35-year old unsolved murder case has a valley man pushing for answers.  Jim Alt still deals with the pain from the terrifying night.  Though he now lives with his girlfriend in Desert Hot Springs, "It really knocks me down sometimes," said the now 52-year-old Alt.

Jim continues to deal with the murder of his girlfriend in San Diego.  It happened in 1978 on the beach in San Diego when he was 17 and she was 15.  "I love that girl," said Alt.  "I should have died. She should have been the one that made it to the car."

The coroner's report reads passersby found the girl, Barbara Nantais, naked, beaten, mutilated and strangled near a lifeguard tower at Torrey Pines State Beach.  Nantais and Alt were camping on the beach when they were apparently attacked.  The report also reads Alt was found nearby "dazed, beaten and bloody."  He says somebody knocked him unconscious. "I woke up cold, wet and I could not see," said Alt.

He still struggles to remember the painful night, and the days in surgery that followed.  As a result of the attack, doctors placed a titanium plate in his head.
"It's a constant reminder, every time I look in the mirror," said Alt. "I've got something to remind me of what happened."

He not only continues to deal with the physical damage, but worse, the emotional pain.  Doctors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. While he undergoes therapy and other treatment, he still wants the case solved. "I know I'm kind of pushing it, but when that clock keeps ticking and nothing happens," said Alt.  "A lot of frustration sets in."

Last month, Alt received an e-mail from the San Diego police department.  Investigators plan to follow up on leads and order new DNA tests.  "The number one thing for me to move on is to find some kind of closure, answers that I don't have now," said Alt.

Until he gets those answers, Alt says he's set on pushing a case almost 35 years old and 35 years cold. "If you have someone in handcuffs, my motor's going to slow down, and I'm going to stop," said Alt.  "But right now, I'm not stopping, it's a force that drives me."