Nearly four decades after an 18-year-old woman was found strangled inside her Bakersfield apartment, an arrest has been made in her killing.
District Attorney Lisa Green announced during a joint press conference with the Bakersfield Police Department Thursday morning that long-haul trucker Prentice Foreman, 60, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dawn Koons.
Police arrested Foreman Wednesday at his residence in the 2300 block of South Union Avenue. He's set to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Friday.
Foreman was questioned just weeks after Koons' body was found, according to a probable cause declaration written by Bakersfield detectives. Back then, he told investigators he was with his girlfriend during the time frame in which the killing occurred.
Koons was last seen the evening of Jan. 12, 1979. Her body was found four days later.
Foreman said he didn't know the victim, and would just say "hello" to her when he saw her around the apartment complex, according to the declaration. He claimed he was never inside her apartment.
Semen taken from the crime scene was retested and in October returned a hit matching Foreman's DNA profile, the declaration says. Detectives called Foreman on Dec. 15, but he was uncooperative and refused to meet, the declaration says.
Police Chief Lyle Martin said one of the breakthroughs in the case came as detectives conducted a periodic review of evidence in 2012. They identified and pursued several new leads.
Reams of evidence were collected after Koons' body was found Jan. 16, 1979, inside her apartment at 2220 South Real Road. That evidence has undergone testing using new technology over the years, Martin said, eventually leading to Foreman's arrest.
The chief said the case may have been 39 years old, but that didn't mean it was forgotten.
"We are constantly and continually working hard to bring closure to families that are hurting," Martin said.
He said the department has notified Koons' brother, David Koons, of the arrest.
Green said they know why Foreman was at Koons' apartment, but couldn't comment further.
Koons had moved from New York to Bakersfield. She was working as a waitress at the time of her death.
Police found her naked in a bathtub, her wrists tied, Green said. A pillowcase covered her head.
The murder charge against Foreman includes special circumstances that it occurred during the commission of a burglary, and during a rape or attempted rape. Foreman is eligible for the death penalty, but Green said it's unlikely they'll pursue death considering the age of the case.
According to court records, Foreman pleaded no contest in 2007 to petty theft with a prior jail term and was sentenced to three years in prison. In 1992, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading no contest to possessing, manufacturing or selling a dangerous weapon.