UPDATE 10:15 p.m. (Full story)
Nearly three decades after a woman was fatally stabbed in her Florida home, cold case investigators arrested her accused killer.
Sandusky man Carl McCauley, 64, was arrested Wednesday afternoon at his Vine Street home, on a murder warrant issued by Polk County, Fla. sheriff's deputies.
McCauley now stands accused of the March 24, 1987 death of Karen Watson, 41, of the Tampa Bay area.
Watson died from multiple stab wounds on that day 27 years ago, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Sandusky by Polk County deputies. Evidence of a sexual assault or sexual activity were also recovered from the crime scene.
From there, the trail went cold.
But in early June, Polk County cold case detectives reached out to Sandusky police, trying to track McCauley down.
Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman indeed located him — McCauley had been living an apparently normal life on Vine Street for about 15 years or more.
He'd worked for a local business installing garage doors, an incredulous neighbor told the Register, and always appeared to be a responsible, hard-worker. McCauley would crack jokes regularly, the neighbor said, and was personable after he'd had a few drinks.
And McCauley apparently steered clear of local legal trouble as well — Wichman said Sandusky police had received no complaints or incidents involving McCauley since he moved to town.
After Wichman located McCauley's Sandusky home, officers conducted surveillance and eventually rounded him up for an interview, per Polk County deputies' request.
Investigators collected a DNA sample, asked some questions, and sent McCauley home.
Then, last week, deputies obtained a forensic match: McCauley's DNA was consistent with that found at the crime scene, the affidavit stated.
Deputies drew up a murder warrant and set out for Sandusky, Wichman said. On Wednesday afternoon, around 1 p.m., Sandusky police and Polk County deputies arrested McCauley without incident at his home. He asked for an attorney soon after and thus did not confirm or deny his involvement in the killing, Wichman said.
During the original investigation, McCauley's wife told police that he'd showed up at a bar she was at the morning of the murder.
McCauley was angry she was there with other men, according to the affidavit, and another patron said McCauley appeared high on “angel dust” or some other drug.
Another witness placed McCauley — or someone who looked like him — walking towards Watson's home around the suspected time of her death, later that afternoon, documents stated.
Investigators learned the McCauleys knew the Watsons and had been to their home. McCauley's wife later stated she knew Watson's husband, but denied having a relationship with him, the affidavit said.
After McCauley was initially interviewed earlier this summer, his girlfriend told Wichman that McCauley admitted having sex with Watson in her bed the day she was murdered, but denied killing her, the affidavit said.
Following his arrest, McCauley was taken to the Erie County jail and held without bond.
He'll likely be sent back to Florida, but the particulars of that process remain to be seen.
Carl McCauley, 64, of the 900 block of Vine Street was arrested around 1:30 p.m. at his home, according to investigators.
Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said McCauley has been living in Sandusky for several years, but only recently did investigators tie him to an alleged Tampa Bay-area cold case homicide.
Karen Watson, 41, was found stabbed to death in March, 1987 at her Florida home, according to Polk County online records. In late May, Polk County deputies asked Sandusky police to conduct surveillance on McCauley in connection with the case. He was later brought in for a police interview, and investigators obtained a DNA sample, police said.
Earlier this week, Florida investigators obtained a match between McCauley's DNA and samples collected at the crime scene decades ago, Wichman said,
A homicide warrant was subsequently issued for McCauley's arrest and he was detained without incident this afternoon.
He is currently being held at the Erie County jail, under a first-degree felony hold from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Wichman said that McCauley has flown under the radar in Sandusky for years —since about 2000 — and local police do not have any records or complaints associated with him.
Check back for more updates, as the Register is currently awaiting more information from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.