New DNA evidence revealed a suspect in the 1985 murder of Mildred Matheny in Florida.
Authorities arrested Richard Curtis Lange Sr., 61, Thursday and charged him with first-degree murder. They additionally charged him with sexual assault with a weapon and kidnapping. Thirty-six years after Matheny’s death, her family finally received the closure they deserved.
Matheny, died May 8, 1985, after she received several blunt-force injuries to the head and face. She had dementia, and wandered from her sister’s home a week and a half before the assault. According to the Sun Sentinel, the 78-year-old retired nurse was discovered naked and covered in blood. She had been raped and beaten, her clothes strewn across the dirt. She additionally suffered a skull fracture and internal bleeding.
The case went cold until recently, when the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case. Forensic scientists entered DNA obtained from Matheny’s rape kit into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, and found a match.
The match, from Lang’s 2006 gun charge conviction, enabled police officers to arrest him and conduct a cheek swab. According to Fox 13, the DNA from the cheek swab matched the semen preserved in the 1985 rape kit. At the time of the murder, Lange was 25 years old.
Lange denied all charges against him, yet is being held at Palm Beach County Jail without bond.
Matheny’s 88-year-old son, Gary Matheny, said he gave up hope, but the DNA evidence made him “joyful” that authorities finally found a suspect.