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2 arrested in 1977 cold case murder of Texas Army officer

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This undated photo provided by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office shows Lisbeth Ann Garrett and Roger Evan Garrett.El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Investigators in West Texas say they've solved the murder of an Army Green Beret who was found with a fractured skull and stab wounds in an El Paso County desert in 35 years ago.

The El Paso Times reports that Lisbeth Garrett, 74, was arrested Thursday in El Paso and charged in the 1977 death of her estranged husband, Army Maj. Chester Garrett.

An El Paso County Sheriff's Office statement said that his stepson, 54-year-old Roger Evan Garrett, was arrested in Knoxville, Tenn.

The 35-year-old major's bloody body was found in the back seat of his 1972 Volkswagen in the desert east of El Paso. Investigators say he'd been stabbed 10 times but died of a skull fracture.

At the time of his death, investigators found footprints and a set of tracks belonging to a different car in the area, but no signs of a struggle, the El Paso Times reported.

The case eventually went cold after all leads became exhausted. The investigation was not reopened until 2006, according to the paper.

"We've been working this case for many years," sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Cross told the paper. "The homicide guys did a tremendous job never quitting that case. It's a great night, and hopefully this is the first step in getting justice for him and his family."

Garrett, who was an executive officer of the student battalion at the Fort Bliss Air Defense School, also coached basketball and boys baseball at the school, according to the report.

Sheriff's Capt. Mac Stout told the El Paso Herald-Post in 1977 described Garrett as a "Special Forces type" and said "[w]hoever got him must have been mighty tough, too, and probably more than one, and probably took him by surprise."

Both Lizbeth Garrett and Roger Garrett are charged with murder and are being held on $5 million bond, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here for more from the El Paso Times.

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