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Classmate charged with cheerleader's death

FORT WORTH, Texas -- She was blonde and pretty. A former cheerleader at Castleberry High School. He was voted 'Best All Around' by their classmates, a former defensive back on the school's football team.

She will be buried Monday.

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He sat in Tarrant County Jail Sunday under $25,000 bond charged with murder.

Retha Lee Stratton, 18, was found by her roommate Thursday in a bedroom closet of the duplex they shared. Miss Stratton had been stabbed 35 times with a kitchen butcher knife, which was still buried in her chest. Her wrists had been slit.

Wesley Miller, 19, was arrested before dawn Saturday in his parent's home. Witnesses had told polece they saw a red pickup truck resembling Miller's in the area of the young woman's home at the time of the slaying, homicide Sgt. H.L. Wyatt said.

'He was sound asleep when we got there,' Wyatt said. After Miller was awakened, he was 'very calm,' Wyatt said.

The suspect gave police a statement, authorities said.

Police in Fort Worth and River Oaks, the small middle-class suburb where Miller and Miss Stratton went to school, were investigating whether the killing was linked to sexual attacks last month on another former Castleberry cheerleader and the sister of a third former cheerleader.

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He had not been charged in either of those cases, police said.

At least two other Castleberry cheerleaders have been threatened, River Oaks police said.

Since Miller and Miss Stratton graduated in May 1981, he reportedly had tried to date the young woman. 'He was a spurned lover,' the Wyatt said.

However, another former cheerleader who returned home from Baylor University to attend Miss Stratton's funeral Monday, said Miller and Miss Stratton had seen little of each other since graduating last spring.

'He and Retha never went out,' she said. 'They were just close friends.'

The school and community Sunday remained in shock from the event and said Miller was a better-than-average student while in school who never had any discipline problems.

'He was well liked and as respected in school as she (Miss Straton),' said Castleberry counselor Effie Gish.

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