Alameda Police Solve 45-Year-Old Cold Case Homicide

Alameda Police Department--Richard Bischel, Jr. stands behind a picture of his father Richard Bischel, Sr. who was stabbed to death in Alameda on March 16, 1977.

Alameda Police Solve 45-Year-Old Cold Case Homicide

The Alameda Police Department (APD) announced at a press conference Tuesday, March 22, the department recently solved a 45-year murder investigation.

The investigation stems from a stabbing incident that took place on March 16, 1977. On the fateful night, 43-year-old Richard Bischel, Sr. sustained 10 stab wounds during an attempted burglary, while at home with his young son. He died from his injuries at the hospital.

APD identified Richard Curley Bernard as the person responsible for the murder, citing evidence and positive DNA confirmation.

The case was solved by the APD Cold Case Unit. The unit is led by retired APD detective Lorenzo Graham. At the press conference Graham said the unit submitted critical evidence to the Serological Research Institute (SERI), a non-profit California corporation providing a broad spectrum of biological testing services, for examination. The institute is located in Richmond. The piece of evidence was a blood-stained jacket confiscated from Bernard’s residence after the murder. APD said Bernard wore the jacket during the incident. The SERI examination determined the blood on the jacket belonged to Bischel, Sr.

APD questioned Bernard shortly after the murder but technology at the time did not give them the ability to determine whose blood it was, but that has changed with the advancement in technology.

After a months-long investigation, the unit submitted its findings to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office who supported the conclusion of the investigation.

Graham said that Bernard was a career criminal who was arrested and convicted for a series of Alameda burglaries and two known rapes in the 1970s. Bernard was also alleged to have committed more than 100 burglaries. Bernard was released from jail in 1983.

He was shot and killed in 1989 in Texas.

“While Bernard is deceased and therefore cannot face his day in court, we have given the opportunity to provide answers to the Bischel family,” said Graham, at the press conference at Alameda Free Library. “This crime had a long-lasting impact on the family.”

Bischel Sr.’s son, Richard Bischel, Jr. attended the press conference.

“I want to say thank you the Alameda Police Department and the Cold Case Unit for their hard work,” said Bischel, Jr., who was 17 at the time of his father’s death. “I didn’t believe this was ever going to be real. I had always hoped, but I always thought [the case] would just lay there.”

Bischel Jr. said his father was a mechanic and a former Marine who served in the Korean War. He was by his father’s side when he was stabbed. Bischel, Jr. said his father did not know Bernard.

APD Chief Nishant Joshi said the department reopened the investigation after APD established the Cold Case Unit in April 2021. The unit consists of Graham, two fellow retired APD detectives and two active APD sergeants. Graham said his unit is currently investigating six other cold case murders.