Seaside, CA

Former Soldier Charged in 1982 Murder of 5-Year-Old

True Crime Mysteries (Megan)

Anne Pham was abducted while walking to kindergarten, only three blocks away.

Anne PhamPhoto bySeaside Police

It was on January 21, 1982, in Seaside, California, when five-year-old Anne Pham convinced her mother to allow her to walk to her afternoon kindergarten class alone. The youngest of ten siblings, little Anne wanted to be like her siblings and not have her mother walk with her. The school was only three blocks away.

With great hesitation, Anne’s mother let her walk to school and watched from the window as Anne strode off. It should have only taken her minutes to get to school, but after Anne rounded the corner, something happened, and she never made it to school.

A massive search for the child was undertaken, and two days later, her body was found two miles away. She had been strangled to death and assaulted.

During the murder investigation, detectives had little to go on. No one had seen Anne walking or getting abducted. There were no suspects, and quickly the leads dried up. The case went cold and sat for four decades untouched.

In 2020, the Monterey County District Attorney opened a new cold case unit, and Anne’s case was reopened. Detectives submitted all the evidence for new advanced DNA testing and discovered a hair sample in Anne’s clothing.

In 2022 they had enough DNA to submit to the national database and immediately got a hit from a previously convicted man currently in the Washoe County Jail in Nevada on a parole violation. Robert Lanoue had previously served a twenty-year sentence for “lewdness with a minor” and possession of inappropriate imagery of minors.
Robert LanouePhoto byWashoe County Sheriff’s Office

Now seventy years old, Lanoue had been twenty-nine when Anne had been kidnapped. He had lived nearby the Pham family and had never been a suspect in the initial investigation. Before his arrest in 1998, he had been stationed at Fort. Ord, a now-closed Army base. Anne’s body had been found in a wooded area near that base.

He is currently awaiting extradition to California. He was charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances, and he faces life in prison or potentially the death penalty.

Anne’s family hasn’t made any official statement to the media, but they are said to be processing this new information as they had never believed they would have answers to Anne’s murder.

If you enjoyed this story, please kindly consider joining my mailing list. I send out a monthly newsletter highlighting all the cool stuff I do across platforms!


Comments / 2

Published by

She/Her, content creator, writer, true crime, and history enthusiast


More from True Crime Mysteries (Megan)

Comments / 0