For years, Christie Lee Fleming's death remained one of many unsolved homicides in Los Angeles County. But 13 years later, a former boyfriend was charged Wednesday with her murder after new DNA technology linked him to cigarette butts found at the crime scene.
Detectives arrested Arturo Johannas Gutierrez, 41, at his Perris home after a crime-lab analysis connected him to the evidence. He had been a suspect in the May 13, 1989, killing, but there hadn't been enough evidence to prosecute, Sheriff's Lt. Ray Peavy said.
An autopsy revealed that the 25-year-old secretary was beaten and died of suffocation. Authorities said repeated DNA tests had failed to yield useful results--until March.
The test performed this time, called Short Tandem Repeats, represents state-of-the-art DNA technology. The Sheriff's Department has been using it since 1999, but Fleming's slaying is among the first old unsolved--or cold--cases in which it has been employed.