Police believed she was murdered several days earlier in a parking lot and then dragged to the field where she was found.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man has been arrested for the 1987 cold case murder of a woman in southwest Fresno.
Police say 71-year-old Carl Eugene Sears, a registered sex offender, was taken into custody on July 21.
Back on February 24, 1987, police found 22-year-old Jacqueline Denise Henry with multiple stab wounds in a field at the corner of Church and Fig Avenues.
"Jacqueline was a beautiful child, Jacqueline was my baby. She was my baby," Henry's sister Jean Whittle said.
Henry was the mother of a baby boy when she was killed.
"It's been a long time and we don't really talk that much about my mom, but when we do, it's all good stuff," Henry's son Louis Goodman said.
Police believed she was murdered several days earlier in the parking lot of a church across the street and then dragged to the field where she was found.
Authorities weren't able to find any witnesses or identify Henry's killer.
"Back in 1987, there were no ring cameras, there were no smart phones, there was no shotspotter, there were no eye-witnesses, and DNA evidence was brand new," Fresno police chief Paco Balderrama said.
The investigation was reopened in 2009 by a detective assigned to the Cold Case Unit. Evidence from the scene and autopsy were given to the California Department of Justice Fresno Regional Laboratory for analysis.
In February of 2022, the Fresno Police Department was notified that DNA tests linked Sears to the crime.
Police worked with the Fresno County District Attorney's Office and were able to get an arrest warrant for Sears. He's now booked in the Fresno County Jail on murder charges.
Sears is due back in court August 7 and is being held on more than $1 million in bail.
"Give him the death penalty. He's a monster, he doesn't deserve to go nowhere, but to death," Henry's sister Connie Jones said at a news conference.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp says the case is eligible for the death penalty -- but she has not determined if her office will seek that.
"All of that information, the social history of the defendant, his criminal history, the facts of the crime, the evidence that we have is all something that is assessed and then the determination is made whether or not to seek the death penalty."
Regardless of the potential punishment, Henry's loved ones say they are thankful for this long-awaited step toward justice.