DNA Links Sex Offender to 1985 Rape, Murder in Las Vegas

A registered sex offender in Pea Ridge has been linked by his DNA to the murder of a woman in Las Vegas in 1985.

Charles Conner, 58, was arrested Tuesday at the probation office in Bentonville after Las Vegas authorities notified police in Arkansas of the match.

Conner was sought for the June 1985 slaying of Beth Lynn Jardine, 23, who was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. She was raped and beaten to death in her apartment, police said.

"I'm sure after all those years, (Conner) thought he was home free," Arkansas Crime Laboratory Director J.R. Howard said Wednesday.

Conner was arrested in 1994 in Rogers for rape, kidnapping and burglary. The Crime Lab later obtained a DNA sample from Conner. Last month, Las Vegas police who work in a cold-case unit submitted the DNA evidence, and the match was made.

"It's not too often that you get a hit on a cold case that's this old," Arkansas State Police Cpl. Brett Pritchard said. "All the leads had run out for the Las Vegas Police Department."

Pritchard said Conner and Jardine likely met at a bar and went back to her apartment.

"I don't think they had any kind of relationship," Pritchard said.

Police had collected DNA, fingerprints and palm impressions at the crime scene, Pritchard said.

On Tuesday, detectives collected new DNA swabs from Conner to confirm the match.

Conner was convicted of burglary, rape and kidnapping in 1994 and is listed as a registered sex offender with the Arkansas Crime Information Center.

Conner is being held in the Benton County Jail pending transfer to Las Vegas.