Man charged in 1977 cold case murder of girlfriend's son

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An Indianapolis man has been arrested and charged with murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old son 36 years ago.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said 57-year-old Michael V. Ackerman was arrested late Wednesday in connection with the Jan. 17, 1977, death of William T. (Billy) Wood, whom Ackerman was babysitting at the time of the child's death.

Ackerman was being held Thursday in the Marion County Jail, where records did not indicate whether he had an attorney.

The boy's cause of death was listed at the time of an autopsy as multiple injuries/undetermined, even though an autopsy report identified the injuries as a fractured skull and numerous internal injuries.

The police cold case squad reopened the case in February, when the victim's older sister, Indy Jo Wood, came forward and told authorities she was in the apartment when her mother's then-boyfriend allegedly killed her brother, reported.

The sister, who was three years old when her brother died, told authorities she has been haunted by the incident and said her mother did not give satisfying answers when she asked about her brother's death over the years, according to an affidavit in support of Ackerman's arrest.

After interviewing Wood's mother and tracking down retired medics and police officers that had worked on the case police Sgt. David Ellison was able to build a case against Ackerman, according to the report.

"No crime victim should ever be forgotten, particularly a young child such as Billy Wood," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a statement. "Even though it is now 36 years after his death, it is our intent that justice will be served on his behalf."

Ackerman faces a second degree murder charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of 15 to 25 years or life, according to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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