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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A San Antonio man was arrested last week and faces a murder charge in a 42-year-old cold case out of Comal County, Texas.

Larry Allen West, 68, was arrested by Texas Rangers on April 13 and charged in the 1981 murder of Carol Joyce Deleon, who was 18 at the time, according to a release from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

West was linked to the murder through new evidence in the case, which was subjected to advanced DNA testing under DPS’ Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program.

Deleon’s body was found in June 1981, along IH-35 in southern Comal County, but she wasn’t identified until 27 years later. Investigators tried to identify her using fingerprints and a composite sketch that was released to local media at the time, but she ultimately was buried as a Jane Doe.

An autopsy determined she died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head, according to DPS.

The Texas Ranger’s Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program reviewed the case file in May 2008, and from researching missing persons reports, only found one missing person similar to the description of the victim from the 1981 time frame.

Deleon had only been reported missing to the San Antonio Police Department in 2007 by a family member who had last heard from her 26 years earlier.

Texas Rangers met with Deleon’s family and provided a photo of the Jane Doe from the 1981 cold case. Her family recognized her and further family DNA testing confirmed her identity, 27 years after being labeled a Jane Doe.

Deleon was found to have lived in the West Avenue area of San Antonio and had graduated from Thomas Edison High School on May 28, 1981, just days prior to her death.

Carol Joyce Deleon (Courtesy: Texas Department of Public Safety)

According to DPS, the family had attempted to file a missing person report back in 1981, but because she was 18 and no foul play was noted at the time, a report was not taken.

Deleon had also told the family she would be moving away once she turned 18, and the family had assumed she had followed through, DPS said. However, after years of not hearing from her, Deleon’s youngest sister decided to file the missing persons report in 2007.

The Texas Rangers continued pursuing the case with forensic DNA advancements and in 2010 an unknown DNA profile was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System. At that time, no matches were found, and the case once again stalled due to the lack of leads caused by the long time frame.   

In 2020, evidence in the case was subjected to Advanced DNA testing under DPS’ SAKI program, which is funded by the Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance.

The agencies provide investigative funding for agencies across the United States to further unsolved sexual assaults and sexually related homicides with the hope of bringing justice to the victims and their families, according to the DPS release.

The testing led to the identity of West, which was confirmed through normal forensic DNA testing. 

West was arrested and booked into the Bexar County Jail on a $125,000 bond.

An indictment and trial are now pending.