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Ala. woman charged in 1995 missing case now considered murder

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham police say an arrest has been made in a 20-year-old cold case that is now being classified as a homicide.

Police said in a statement Monday that 40-year-old Tricia Abney is being held without bond at the Jefferson County Jail in connection with the death of 23-year-old Justin Barnett.

Authorities say Barnett went missing in June 1995 and investigators in January got new information in the case that led them to Abney.

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Justin Barnett WIAT

A Birmingham cold case detective told AL.com that investigators weren't sure Barnett was killed until a witness came forward. The detective, Jonathan Ross, told the website the victim was stabbed, beaten and dismembered, but authorities have yet to find his remains.

"(The witness) said he knew of a murder case that happened 20 years ago,'' Ross told the website. "He had dealt with it for 20 years and it was eating up his conscience."

Ross said robbery was apparently the motive for the murder, which he said happened at a Birmingham apartment. He told the website that Abney's boyfriend at the time was part of the robbery scheme, but said the man killed himself last week in Mobile after police attempted to interview him.

He didn't release the the man's name.

Police say cold case detectives showed their findings to the county district attorney's office and Abney was arrested without incident and charged with capital murder. Court records don't show an attorney listed for her.

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