Yleen and Lillie Kennedy were brutally murdered in 1984: Edmond Degan evaded justice for 31 years

Yleen and Lillie Kennedy pose for a family photo
Yleen and Lillie Kennedy were savagely murdered in 1984, and their killer escaped justice for 31-years. Pic credit: Family photo

On The Case With Paula Zahn examines the 1984 murders of two adult sisters in Houston, Texas. Edmond Beauregard Degan got away with the savage murders for 31 years, until the police finally caught up with the killer.

Yleen Faye Kennedy, 33, and Lillie Dale Kennedy, 23, were found dead in their home. Yleen had been raped, beaten, and stabbed, and Lillie had died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

The women’s father, Jack Kennedy, found the bodies, a discovery that haunted him for the rest of his life made worse by the fact he died before Degan was arrested.

There was no weapon, no indication of forced entry, no signs of a burglary, and not much for Houston’s finest to go on.

The case wasn’t completely devoid of leads, the house had been shot up a few weeks before, and neighbors had seen a man carrying a bundle and claiming to have broken up with one of the sisters.

However, police remained frustrated by the lack of progress in the case. Many investigators were particularly disturbed by the savagery of the murders. Lillie had been shot execution-style in the back of the head.

Yleen had been tortured and sexually assaulted; the killer had put a rag in her throat and stabbed her repeatedly in the neck.

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Forensic science finally caught up with Edmond Degan

The case lay dormant for 25-years until 2009 when cold case investigators reviewed the murders by running DNA samples collected from the crime scene through the national database.

Degan had a fairly extensive criminal record and popped up on the database; his DNA was a match.

After 30-years of getting away with murder, forensic science finally caught up with Edmond Degan. In January 2015, police arrested the 57-year-old and charged him with murder.

Degan had a long and colorful criminal history that included drug possession, aggravated robbery, a threat of terrorism, and charge for assaulting a family member.

Despite his record, he was only sentenced to 15-years in prison. The family of the victims was further outraged to learn in 2017 that the murderer was already eligible for parole.

However, as of April 2020, Degan remains imprisoned.

More from On The Case With Paula Zahn

Follow the links to read about more murders investigated by Paula Zahn.

In 2008, Thomas Randolph of Las Vegas was briefly considered a tragic hero when it was believed he’d lost his wife, Sharon, during a home invasion in which he’d managed to shoot the intruder. However, it later transpired that he had hired a hitman to kill his wife, and once she had been killed, Randolph then shot the hitman.

In another case that went unsolved for decades, Detective Samuel Milton Guy was shot dead during a robbery while he moonlighted at a hotel in downtown Atlanta in 1975.  The case went dead until two old criminals in their 60s were arrested in 1999.

On The Case With Paula Zahn airs Sunday at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

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