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A 76-year-old Colorado man was charged Monday in Utah with the 1970 rape and murder of a Carbon County woman.
Thomas Edward Egley, of Rocky Ford, Colo., was charged in 7th District Court with murder in the second degree and first-degree felony rape for the stabbing death of 23-year-old Loretta Marie Jones at her Price home on July 30, 1970.
Egley, who is being held on a $1 million arrest warrant in Otero County, Colo., is now awaiting extradition to Utah, officials said.
In 2009, Carbon County sheriff's Sgt. David Brewer reopened the cold-case homicide at the request of family members of the victim.
Egley and Jones had dated in the past, Brewer told The Salt Lake Tribune in an interview last year, and when Jones' body was exhumed last spring, Egley asked his neighbor "how long DNA evidence and semen lasted," according to charging documents.
The neighbor convinced Egley to "come clean" to investigators and arranged for Egley to meet with Carbon County investigators at his Colorado home, charges state.
On July 8, Egley admitted to police that he had slit Jones' throat, according to charging documents, and in a private conversation with his female neighbor on July 16, Egley went into more detail about the rape and murder.
Egley told the neighbor he was at Jones' home "for sex ... I was turned down for sex ... [It made me feel] like shit ... she went to the kitchen or something after that ... and when she came back I stabbed her ... in the living room. She fell ... in front of the couch," charges state.
Egley then told the neighbor that, believing Jones was still alive, he had sex with her and "cut her throat," charges state. He told his neighbor he left her on the floor.
The victim's 4-year-old daughter, Heidi, found her mother dead on the living room floor the next morning, charges state.
A doctor who examined Jones' body in 1970 testified that she died from "internal bleeding, caused by stab wounds in the pulmonary artery, lungs and heart," charges state. He added that he found semen in Jones' vagina.
Egley told his neighbor in July that when he returned to his hotel, he bathed with all his clothes on, and the next day got rid of the clothes he was wearing and "threw the knife in the river behind the hotel."
Egley's ex-wife, who talked to police since the case was reopened in 2009, also said he had bathed on the night of Jones' murder with all his clothes on, and she described his behavior as "uncharacteristic" and "unusual" that night and the next day, according to charges.
She told police that the following morning, he took clothing to the laundromat and returned with fewer clothes than when he left. His clothing from the previous night was missing, she said, and he told her he gave police a different set of clothes than the ones he wore the previous night.
Since the case was reopened, a second woman told police she had observed Egley using a burn barrel by the laundromat to burn items the day after Jones' murder. He told her he was "burning clothes from the night before," and had given police "a different set of clothes when they came and searched his hotel room," charging documents state.
In November 1970, Egley was arrested and charged with the slaying in November 1970, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence following a preliminary hearing.
Despite setbacks like witnesses dying and evidence disappearing, Jones' daughter, now Heidi Jones Asay, had never given up trying to solve her mother's case.
"I love my mommy with all my heart," Asay told The Tribune on Thursday. "What [Egley] did to my mom, my mom did not deserve. Hearing that he's in handcuffs and he's sitting in a jail cell it's one of my best days ever."
The now-50-year-old woman said she's been telling the same story over and over since age 4, and to hear that Egley confessed and is behind bars makes her feel "over-the-moon ecstatic."
The case was revived in 2009 after Asay ran into Brewer, an old schoolmate, at an arts festival. They hadn't seen each other since attending Carbon High.
"She asked me what I was doing now, and I told her I'm a detective with the sheriff's office," Brewer said in a 2015 interview. "And so she said, 'Hey I got a case to ask you about.' "
Intrigued by the long-dormant case, Brewer reopened it, and after Egley's arrest and confession hopes it will soon be resolved in court.
Brewer has been a "godsend," Asay said. "This man deserves a medal for what he's gone through on this for the last seven years. He has never given up, which is huge because I have never given up.
Due to evidence lost through the years including papers and a vaginal swab with a semen sample Brewer had to start his investigation from the beginning.
About six years ago, Brewer and his partner pulled up at Egley's Colorado home. A man of 70 at that time, Egley greeted them and assumed they wanted to discuss Jones' murder, but he persisted in denying any involvement, Brewer said in 2015.
"I always just thought that this case was meant to be solved and I won't give up on it," Brewer said last year, "because I just have that gut feeling that it's going to happen."
Attorney General Sean Reyes said his office which is prosecuting the case with Carbon County authorities was "grateful for the hard work that Carbon County investigators put into solving this 46-year-old cold case. I hope this arrest brings some measure of closure to the family, even after all these years."
"The community of Carbon County, particularly the victim's daughter who was 4 years old at the time, can finally find solace in knowing Loretta Jones's family will have the justice they deserve resulting from the tragic death of Ms. Jones some 46 years ago. Sergeant Brewer and Detective Hendricks of the Carbon County Sheriff's office should be commended for their efforts," said Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate.