A San Antonio man was charged with murder last week in connection to a 42-year-old cold case, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced

Texas Rangers arrested 68-year-old Larry Allen West for the murder of 18-year-old Carol Joyce Deleon, who was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the head along Interstate 35 in southern Comal County in June 1981, Texas DPS said. 

Officials linked West to the killing through new evidence in the case that was subjected to advanced DNA testing under the Texas DPS Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program, which is funded by the Department of Justice. 

The investigation into the killing stalled for decades after investigators were initially unable to identify Deleon using her fingerprints or a composite sketch released to local media, and officials were forced to bury her as a Jane Doe, Texas DPS said. 

Then a break in the case came 26 years later when a family member reported Deleon missing to the San Antonio Police Department in 2007, Texas DSP said. Her family was able to identify her through a photo and family DNA testing confirmed her identity, according to Texas DPS.

The family said they had tried to file a missing person report when she initially went missing in 1981 but because she was already 18 and there was no foul play suspected, no report was taken. Deleon also told her family she planned on moving away when she turned 18 so the family just assumed she had, according to Texas DPS. 

“However, after years of not hearing from her, Deleon’s youngest sister decided to file the missing persons report in 2007,” Texas DPS said. 

The Texas Rangers continued pursuing the case; in 2010 an unknown DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System but no matches were found, according to Texas DPS. But then, in 2020, advanced DNA testing under the SAKI program led to West and was confirmed through normal forensic DNA testing, Texas DPS said. 

West was arrested and booked on a $125,000 bond and is awaiting an indictment and trial, Texas DPS said.