Colorado police believe they cracked a cold case murder after finally arresting a suspect nearly two decades after a prosecutor was found dead in the bathtub of her apartment, officials said Wednesday.
Robert Williams, 70, was arrested Tuesday and charged in the death of Rebecca Bartee, who died in June 1999, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said. A reporter from Denver TV station KCNC-TV contacted investigators after receiving a call from a man claiming he lived in the apartment complex when Bartee was murdered.
"New leads may be the only way to solve these crimes," the department said. "We, along with the victim's family, are thankful someone came forward with new information, even after 18 years."
The man told the station he remembered seeing Williams leaving Bartee's apartment around the time she was killed. Police did not disclose other details about the arrest and Williams' warrant affidavit was sealed. He is expected to appear in court Thursday.
Bartee left work on a Friday in 1999 and never returned to the office. A coworker discovered Bartee's body after going to her apartment to get a case file, police said.
Investigators initially thought Bartee killed herself because of an antidepressant medication found near her body. But clues -- including a full wine class on the table and pills in the bathroom -- led them to believe someone broke in and murdered her. Autopsy results revealed Bartee did not have alcohol or drugs in her system and hand marks were found on her neck.
"I never thought the fact that there might be someone living here that could be tied to murder as far as that long ago," a neighbor told FOX31 Wednesday.
Arapahoe County Sheriff spokesperson Julie Brooks also said making an arrest years after a case is extremely rare.
"To make an arrest in a cold case, it is difficult because people's memories fade, people move, people who might have information don't realize they have information," Brooks said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.