SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) - Willie Roy Jenkins, 57, of California, was indicted Monday in a capital murder case in San Marcos that dates back to nearly 35 years ago, when 20-year-old Sheryl Norris was sexually assaulted and murdered in her apartment.
"This indictment is the result of remarkable dedication and determination by numerous members of the San Marcos Police Department over the years," said Hays County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe . "Today is the first step towards justice that is long overdue."
Jenkins' indictment comes two days shy of the 35-year anniversary of Norris' death.
The 20-year-old from Florida was strangled and drowned in her apartment on Nov. 24, 1975. She worked at the Texas Crime Prevention Institute at then-Southwest Texas State University, now known as Texas State University .
Norris' former co-worker, Theresa Schwartz, attended a press conference police hosted on Monday.
"Her murder has haunted me," said Schwartz. "She left for lunch and did not come back, and her boyfriend found her. I always ask, 'What if I would have called?'"
Schwartz, who was on maternity leave the day of the murder, described Norris as "beautiful" and "full of life."
"Whenever the baby kicked, she always wanted to touch my belly," Schwartz recalled.
After trying once before, investigators resubmitted DNA evidence nearly 22 years later for new analysis, which turned up only a partial DNA profile of an unknown contributor. Authorities found it insufficient for search through the state and national Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS.
Some 13 years after that unsuccessful try, investigators again requested new analysis on April 2010 - this time testing specifically a certain evidence item. There was a "hit" in the CODIS database just four months later, indicating a match with an offender already in the system, Jenkins.
Though San Marcos police and the Texas Rangers conducted the original investigation, several San Marcos police officers continued the investigation in recent years.
"The San Marcos Police Department never gave up in their investigation of this case," said San Marcos Police Department Chief Howard Williams. "Recent advances in DNA technology led us to this suspect and his subsequent indictment and arrest."
Authorities traveled to Coalinga, Calif. , to interview the capital murder suspect and to get a saliva sample from Jenkins for direct comparison to the evidentiary DNA - evidence officials said places Jenkins at the scene of the murder and in the body of the victim.
On Sept. 15, forensic analysis experts said Jenkins "cannot be excluded as a contributor to the profile."
In addition to the DNA evidence, authorities verified Jenkins was in Central Texas at the time of Norris' aggravated sexual assault and murder.
Jenkins is at the Coalinga State Hospital "under a civil commitment as a sexually violent predator under State of California statues."
Extradition proceedings have been started with the help of the Attorney General's Office and the Governor's Office to bring Jenkins from California to San Marcos for trial.
Schwartz told KXAN she plans to attend the trial.
Police would not comment on what Jenkins was doing in Texas at the time of the murder, citing that information was part of the investigation.
Norris' family asked not to be contacted by media.
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