A DNA match has tied a northern Ohio man to the 1987 fatal stabbing of a Polk County woman, officials said.
Carl McCauley, 64, was arrested Wednesday in Sandusky, Ohio, on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Karen Watson, investigators said.
McCauley will be extradited to Polk to face the charge, authorities said.
“This woman’s brutal murder has remained unsolved for 27 years due to a suspect who could not be found and the inability to conduct DNA analysis,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Watson, a 41-year-old mother of three, died from multiple stab wounds at her Lake Alfred home on March 24, 1987, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Her body was found in the early afternoon by her husband, Charles, when he returned home from running a business errand. Evidence showed she had sex shortly before her death, investigators said.
This year, Polk investigators located McCauley living in Sandusky. In June, McCauley told investigators he knew the Watsons and where they lived, but denied ever going into the house. He also denied ever having sex with Karen Watson, deputies said.
Under a search warrant granted by Sandusky authorities, detectives took DNA swabs of McCauley, deputies said.
Ten days later during an interview with detectives, McCauley’s girlfriend said he told her had sex with Karen Watson the day of the slaying but did not kill the Polk woman. That contradicted statements McCauley previously gave to investigators, deputies said.
This month, a DNA sample provided by McCauley matched DNA from crime-scene evidence, authorities said.
“With modern technology, our detectives were able to locate the suspect in another state and compare his DNA to the samples that were collected long ago,” Judd said.
On Wednesday, Polk detectives obtained an arrest warrant for McCauley. With help from Sandusky police, he was taken into custody without incident.
After his arrest, he told investigators he had sex with Karen Watson but did not kill her. He then asked to speak with an attorney.
“Our detectives work hard to solve these cold cases, and it is a small victory for this family that we are able to bring this suspect to Florida to face these charges,” Judd said.