AKRON (AP) -- Investigators said they used DNA evidence to finally make a case against a man in a 1992 killing.
Charlene Puffenbarger, 26, was beaten and suffocated on the couch in her Twinsburg Township apartment, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland, on Jan. 20, 1992.
Her sons, Derrek and Dustin, then 2 and 3, were with her and had tried to wake her up, believing she was asleep. There was no forced entry, no weapon or other physical evidence.
The only thing missing were her keys, which police believed were used to lock the door after the slaying. The boys could not provide any useful information
Child's father arrested
The father of one of her two sons was awakened at an Arizona resort early Thursday by deputy U.S. marshals and taken to jail. Willard McCarley, 41, of Northfield Center Township, near Akron, was charged with aggravated murder.
"It's obviously an emotional day for us," said Ken Puffenbarger, who with his mother, Phyllis, had never given up hope that someone would be charged in his sister's death.
Every year, on the anniversary of Puffenbarger's death, her mother circulated fliers throughout northern Summit County. A $10,000 reward was offered in 2001.
Ken and Phyllis Puffenbarger said that shortly before Charlene was killed she got a court order to have McCarley's paternity established as Derrek's father, and she was going to seek child support.
In July 2002, the Summit County Sheriff's Department, which periodically reviewed the case, began to focus on anything that might be linked through DNA technology, said spokeswoman Christine Croce. Three weeks ago, a court-ordered DNA sample was obtained from McCarley and sent to a private laboratory, she said.
On Wednesday a warrant was issued for his arrest, but deputies learned that McCarley was on vacation. McCarley, who works at Ford in Walton Hills, near Cleveland, was tracked to Las Vegas, then to a five-star resort near Scottsdale, Ariz., she said.