CARSON CITY, Nev. – A 60-year-old man charged with the 1982 murder of a teenage beauty queen in Carson City has been arrested in Trinidad, authorities said Saturday.
David Winfield Mitchell is expected to be extradited to the U.S. within weeks, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.
He was charged in January with the murder of 18-year-old Sheila Harris, who was found dead in her apartment, where Mitchell worked as a maintenance man.
An autopsy found the then-reigning Miss Douglas County had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled.
"My family has worked and prayed for this for 24 years. Thank goodness justice is finally going to be served," Sheila's mother, Linda Bratton, told Carson City's Nevada Appeal.
Mitchell had been a suspect from the start, Furlong said, but investigators were unable to find physical evidence linking him to the crime. He was arrested in the case in the 1980s but released.
Technology unavailable at the time led to the latest arrest, he said. Mitchell was linked to the crime through DNA found on Harris' body and clothing.
"This case has never died," Furlong said. "We've always had a strong sense of who the suspect was and getting enough evidence to prove it has taken some time."
Shortly after Harris' murder, Mitchell was deported to Trinidad after being accused of living in the country illegally.
Furlong said when the DNA results came back, Mitchell's whereabouts were unknown. In January 2005, he was tracked down to Trinidad's Mount Hope area where he worked as a night watchman at the Ministry of Works.
Mitchell made his initial court appearance Friday in Trinidad.
The sheriff said he expects no problems finding trial witnesses or investigators who worked the case from the beginning.
"We have kept a continuing list of how to contact people associated with this investigation all along," he said. "Most of them are still readily available and most still reside locally in the area."