Todd Barket, 51, was arrested Wednesday on a first-degree murder charge after authorities linked his fingerprints to the murder of Sondra Better, Delray Beach police said. The 68-year-old woman was working at a consignment shop when she was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in August 1998, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“Our detectives worked years trying to find the killer in this case,” Acting Delray Beach Police Chief Javaro Sims said in a news conference Wednesday. “We had fingerprints, we had blood, we even had a possible description from a witness. But the person responsible for this heinous case seemed to just disappear.”
But in January, Barket underwent a background check while applying for a job with a fire and water cleanup company. He submitted his fingerprints that match those taken from the 1998 crime scene and placed in a national database.
Detectives and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents then tracked him down and began monitoring him. Police later obtained Barket's DNA — through unclear methods — and it was matched on Tuesday with DNA from the crime scene.
Barket was 29 years old at the time of the murder and matched the description witnesses gave after the slaying, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Police said he was able to elude authorities because he had no contact with law enforcement.
“He has had no contact with law enforcement, getting arrested or anything,” Capt. John Crane-Baker said. “He had a minimal criminal history, mostly traffic citations. So he flew under the radar, even for 26 years before this occurred. It was quite surprising.”
“It took us 20 years,” Sims said. “20 years is a long time to want and ask for justice for a loved one.”
Barket was ordered to be held without bond on Wednesday. The motive behind the slaying is unclear.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.