Cobb County

9-year-old’s murder haunted Cobb community for 51 years. Her alleged killer has now been identified

MARIETTA, Ga. — More than 50 years after a 9-year-old girl was abducted, raped and killed, cold case detectives have identified her alleged killer.

Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell attended a news conference on Monday where the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced it has identified William Rose as the suspect in Debbie Lynn Randall’s murder.

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Randall disappeared on Jan. 13, 1972 as she was walking back from a laundromat less than a block away from her home. After thousands participated in the search, police found Randall’s body near Windy Hill Road and Powers Ferry Road 16 days later.

Police determined that Randall died from strangulation. Detectives investigated hundreds of leads, but the case eventually went cold with no suspect identified.

In Oct. 2001, detectives sent a hair removed from Randall’s body for DNA testing. In May 2015, a piece of clothing from Randall was sent for an updated test.


Both pieces of evidence created a partial profile of a suspect. Detectives eventually narrowed it down to Rose, who they learned committed suicide in 1974, two years after Randall’s murder.

Rose’s family cooperated with officials, who exhumed Rose’s body and confirmed a DNA match. The DA’s office says the Marietta Police Department was instrumental in preserving the evidence used in solving the case.

At the news conference Monday, Cobb County DA Flynn D. Broady Jr. expressed sorrow for Randall’s parents who didn’t get the chance to witness this day.

Her mother Juanita died of leukemia in 2018 and her father, John, died in 2022.

“The loss of a loved one, especially one of such a tender age is difficult to comprehend. This family has waited for decades for an answer. This information will not replace the pain of losing Debbie Lynn,” Broady, Jr. said.

Randall’s brother spoke briefly at the news conference Monday.

“I wish my mother was here but I know she’s in heaven now and it’s finally over and we want to say we thank all of you for what you’ve done in making this day come to pass,” Marvin Randall said.


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