Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: I believe in 1979 Roger Vaness was murdered at his home on South Land Park Drive. Reportedly this was because he was reporting arsonists who would buy short sale homes at auction and then have them burned down for the insurance money. Apparently this was a hit job. Did they ever find the murderer?
Submitted by: Jinny, Sacramento
ANSWER: One person was convicted and another acquitted in the contract murder of 33-year-old Sacramento real estate speculator Roger O. Vennes.
Vennes' was found stabbed to death in his South Land Park Drive home on Oct. 19, 1982.
James M. "Logie" MacInnes was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. According to stories in The Bee, the prosecutor contended that MacInnes was paid $6,000 by two of Vennes' business rivals to commit the murder. The rivals were named in court but never formally charged.
The prosecutor said MacInnes invaded Vennes' home, stabbed him to death and took his driver's license as proof of the killing. A former employer of MacInnes, motivated by a reward offered by the victim's family, came forward and subsequently testified that MacInnes admitted the murder to him.
The guilty verdict came in MacInnes' third trial on the murder charge. Two earlier prosecutions ended in mistrials, once because of juror misconduct, and once because the panel deadlocked 8-4 for conviction.
MacInnes, now 76, is incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.
Nancy JoAnne Ramsey, MacInnes' former girlfriend, was acquitted. The district attorney's case against her relied totally on the testimony of Ramsey's husband. James Ramsey said his wife told him she had wielded the knife that killed Vennes.
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