Arrest made in cold case

Arrest made in cold case

An investigative effort between the Port Arthur Police Department and the Texas Rangers resulted in a break in a cold case more than three decades old. 

Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham announced the arrest of Daniel Andrew MacGinnis for the 1988 murder of Patricia Ann Jacobs on Aug. 27. 

According to information from the DA's office, Jacobs had failed to return home from a meeting at the Silver Spur tavern in Hardin County on Oct. 5, 1988. The next morning, her truck was found in the parking lot at the tavern and she was immediately reported as a missing person to the Hardin County Sheriff's Office. The next day, Oct. 6, her body was found in the Neches River in Port Arthur. An autopsy revealed Jacobs had died as a result of drowning. There was also trauma to her head and face. The manner of death was listed as "probable homicide."

An intense investigation ensued and numerous witnesses were interviewed. Through the investigation, MacGinnis was identified as a probable suspect. 

MacGinnis was interviewed in California by the Texas Rangers during the investigation and he denied any knowledge or involvement. The investigation revealed no previous contact between Jacobs and MacGinnis, and as a result of lack of evidence, the investigation stalled.

In recent months, the Texas Rangers and the Port Arthur Police Department found items of evidence that had been saved. Those items were subjected to DNA testing that was not available more than 30 years ago. The Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab was able to develop a DNA profile which ultimately matched to MacGinnis, a now-convicted and registered sex offender. An arrest warrant was obtained and he was taken into custody and transported to the Jefferson County Jail where he is being held on a $1 million bond. 

"Thanks to the efforts of the Port Arthur Police Department and the Texas Rangers thave have worked together so diligentlyto make this cold, cold case a prosecutable case," said Wortham. "These are the kinds of cases I really like - when we can go back in history and make the case. It helps the family. It helps their healing process."

"It's huge," Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso said of cracking the case. "It shows the cooperation we have with other agencies like the Texas Rangers and the DA's office. They put in countless hours to locate this guy and arrest him. The DA's office worked day and night to assist us with this investigation."

The police chief said he hopes the break in this cold case is the start of a trend of solving other cold cases that have languished.

"We're going to continue to follow leads and with the new technology that's out there, we've got a chance to solve additional crimes," he said. "This is just the beginning ... DNA technology now is awesome with all the new techniques that they've found. We plan to explore those and move forward with other cold cases. I wouldn't say this is the last cold case that we're going to solve. I would say this is the beginning of something new."

After making significant strides in the case, the next step, Wortham said, is to present the case to a Jefferson County grand jury in the coming days. Should the grand jury hand up an indictment against MacGinnis, Wortham said he loooks forward to prosecuting the case, though there may be hurdles to overcome due to the age of the case.

"It's never easy," he said. "To try to tell you this is going to be easy would be untrue; although, when you have strong DNA evidence to prove, it helps us substantially. He was a suspect in 1988 and he's still a suspect today as we speak."