Man arrested for 1980 Williamson County homicide

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by MELISSA MAHADEO / KVUE News, KVUE.com, Associated Press

kvue.com

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 6:20 PM

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas -- A man has been arrested for the 1980 killing of a Williamson County woman.

On Tuesday the Williamson County Sheriff's Office announced that 53-year-old Steven Alan Thomas, formerly of Garland, Texas, was arrested for the Nov. 4, 1980, killing of 73-year-old Mildred H. McKinney in her Williamson County home. Thomas faces a capital murder charge.

“It was a sick character that did that to my mother. I can’t believe they could do those things,” McKinney's daughter Patricia Stapleton said in an interview to KVUE in 2008.
 
In November of 1980, McKinney was found on her bedroom floor. She'd been beaten, tied up, sexually assaulted and strangled.
 
“A decade or so ago it would have been unsolvable,” district judge Ken Anderson said. “This was a horrible case back when it happened.”
 
Finally, just one month ago, there was a break in the case. The Combined DNA Index System, CODIS, linked Thomas to the murder.
 
“You pay the price eventually, and that is what Mr. Thomas is going to do,” Sergeant John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said. “The fingerprint that was left at the crime scene, as well as the DNA does belong to that of Steven Thomas.”
 
On June 27, the county was informed a DNA match from the scene was made to Thomas. He was then declared a suspect. Additional testing linked his fingerprint from the scene to Thomas as well.
 
After the murder, Thomas was interviewed by police in Dallas and Austin. He claimed to not know McKinney. He also denied sexually assaulting and killing her. Sergeant Foster said the DNA found at the scene is evidence Thomas can’t deny.  
 
“Everything that is there was put there by Steven Thomas,” Foster said.

Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas previously confessed to the crime, but on June 27 the DNA proof that tied Thomas to the murder cleared Lucas.

Thomas was arrested in Austin this week by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. His bond has been set at $1 million.

The FBI, U.S. Probation and Pretrial Release, Garland Police Department, Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab helped with this investigation.

A statement was released from Bob Stapleton, Mildred McKinney's grandson:

"My family and I are very grateful with this unexpected news. News which comes bittersweet that it was not realized before the passing of first our father and then our mother over the last year and a half, but it does not alter our sincere gratitude to the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Sgt. John Foster for their (his) years of tireless and steadfast work in solving this case. Without their resolve, their determination, and their passion for this cold case we may have never known closure to my grandmother's story. She was a glorious woman who my family and I love and cherish and who will continue to live on in our fondest memories."

If you have information about this case you are asked to call the Williamson County Sheriff's Office at (512) 943-1300.

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