POLK COUNTY, Fla. (970 WFLA) – Polk County deputies say they made in arrest in a 1987 cold case.

On August 27, 2014, the Polk County Sheriff’s homicide detectives say they arrested 64-year-old Carl Junior McCauley, who currently resides in Sandusky, Ohio. Deputies say the victim, Karen Ann Watson, was found stabbed to death in her home in Lake Alfred on March 24, 1987. She was 41 years old at the time of her murder.

“This woman’s brutal murder has remained unsolved for 27 years due to a suspect who could not be found, and the inability to conduct DNA analysis; with modern technology, our detectives were able to locate the suspect in another state, and compare his DNA to the samples that were collected long ago. Our detectives work hard to solve these cold cases, and it is a small victory for this family that we are able to bring this suspect to Florida to face these charges. I’m very proud of them.” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

According to the affidavit, on March 24, 1987, Charles Watson, Karen’s husband, arrived home from work around 1:30 p.m. and found his wife’s body on the living room couch in their home, at the time on the 1100 block of Old Polk City Road in Lake Alfred, with multiple stab wounds. Sheriff’s officials say her death was ruled a homicide, and the autopsy revealed that Karen had had sexual intercourse just prior to her death. The crime scene was processed and evidence was collected. Eyewitnesses reported possibly seeing a white male wearing some sort of uniform shirt in the neighborhood during the time frame of the murder, and a beige-over-gold car at the Watson home.

In 1989, officials say detectives interviewed a woman, whose name had come up as a friend of the Watsons. When she was interviewed, deputies say she told detectives that both she and her husband knew the Watsons and had been to their home. Deputies also said Carl McCauley’s employer confirmed that Carl did not come to work on March 24, 1987. 

On June 3, 2014, PCSO says detectives went to Sandusky, Ohio to interview Carl McCauley and he told them he had never been inside the Watson’s home, and denied having a sexual relationship with Karen Watson. Detectives collected a DNA sample from McCauley and brought the sample back to Florida.

On June 27, 2014, Polk detectives say the lab results came back and the comparison of McCauley’s DNA was a positive match for two separate samples of DNA left at the crime scene that was collected after Karen’s murder. 

Polk officials say McCauley has been charged with First Degree Murder, and he will be extradited to Polk County to face this charge.

Photo Credit Polk County Sheriff's Office