June 6 (UPI) -- Earl Webster Cox has been charged with the killing, kidnapping and rape of nine-year-old Angie Housman more than 25 years after the crimes occurred, St. Louis authorities said.
"Today's a day, I think, that many of us have been waiting for," St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Wednesday with members of the local police force and original investigators in the case behind him. "I didn't know if we'd ever get here but we are here and we are pleased to announce we have a suspect and we have formally charged an individual with the murder, abduction and sexual assault of Angie Housman."
Lohmar said that the police force had scoured thousands of leads over years in the case, but it was only brought to a close after a senior forensic scientist with the St. Charles County Crime Lab analysed pieces of Housman's clothing in February and found two sets of DNA: those of Housman and those of Cox.
"For the portion consistent with Cox's DNA, only one in 58.1 trillion unrelated individuals selected at random could be expected to have that same profile," Lohmar said.
He said the clothing, Housman's pink Barbie underpants, had first been tested in 2004 but there were several factors that worked against them, including evidence degradation as the case trailed on.
It was only in 2017 with the advancement in technology that prevented dye in clothing from acting as an inhibitor to DNA testing that a suspect could be pinpointed.
"The breakthrough in the technology allowed for these folks to test it," he said, adding, "they found the needle in the haystack.
The charges against Cox brings to a close the death of Angie Housman, who was abducted on her way home from school on Nov. 18, 1993.
Her nude body was found by a hunter nine days later bound to a tree, her head wrapped in duct tape and her arms handcuffed behind her back in a wooded area of St. Charles County.
Evidence showed that she had suffered from a "significant violent sexual assault" and that she was still alive when she was bound to the tree, Lohmar said.
"As a result of all of that today my office has charged Earl W. Cox with murder in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree and sodomy," he said.
Cox, however, has been a patient in a federal medical facility in North Carolina since he was convicted in connection to a child pornography ring in 2003.
The St. Louise native has been charged numerous times for child sexual assault going back to the 1980s, when serving with the U.S. Air Force, he was court-martialed and charged with multiple sexual offences against juveniles while stationed in Germany, Lohmar said.
Cox was out on parole until he was next convicted of sexually abusing of a child in 1992 but was freed at the end of the year and moved to St. Louis.
Lohmar said Cox was living a quarter mile from Housman in 1993.
"We are remembering something that was a terrible, terrible tragedy to a young lady who didn't deserve this, but at the same time today culminates so much effort, so much work, so much passion and dedication," Lohmar said.