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Florida man arrested after fingerprint is linked to killing of 21-year-old woman in 1983: "I never thought this day would come"

Fingerprint ID's suspect in 1999 child kidnap
Fingerprint ID's suspect in 1999 child kidnap... 02:39

A man who had long been considered a person of interest in the killing of a 21-year-old South Florida woman has been arrested after 38 years, officials said. Ralph Williams, 59, was arrested Monday in Jacksonville and charged with the death of Carla Lowe, whose beaten body was found Nov. 13, 1983, on a roadside, Delray Beach police said Tuesday.

Lowe had last been seen waiting for a train at an Amtrak station in Delray Beach but she never made it on board, CBS Miami reported.

carla-lowe.jpg
  Carla Lowe Delray Beach Police

Detectives said they searched the area for hours but never found anyone who had seen or heard anything suspicious. The same day her body was found, Delray Beach police arrested Williams on grand theft auto and burglary charges, records show.

Williams' criminal record shows more than 20 arrests across Florida, on charges that include burglary; resisting an officer with violence; robbery with a gun or deadly weapon; selling, manufacturing or delivery of heroin and marijuana; and possession of burglary tools.

An attorney for Williams was not listed on court records.

Detective Todd Clancy of the Delray Beach Police Department said that through the years there was never enough evidence for probable cause to arrest Williams in connection to Carla Lowe's death. But new technology from a company based in the United Kingdom later allowed them to identify Williams' fingerprint on a piece of evidence at the scene.

The technology used to crack this case is known as a recovery machine, CBS Miami reported.

"Once this case is done we will then go other the other cold cases that we have and prioritize them based on solvability factor people providing information to us," Clancy said.

Lowe's sister told the South Florida SunSentinel the family is "forever indebted" to Lt. Mark Woods and Detective Clancy for bringing them some closure.

"I played this in my head a thousand times," Jackie Lowe-Repass said. "I never thought this day would come. There's a name now to who did this to my sister."

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