BRANDON, Fla. (FOX 13) - A case that had gone cold for decades on Florida's east coast just got a break in the Bay Area.
Authorities believe 51-year-old Todd Barket, who has been living in Brandon, is responsible for a brutal murder that happened over 20 years ago.
In August of 1998, Delray Beach Police discovered 68-year-old Sondra Better brutally murdered inside a consignment shop. A fingerprint left at the crime scene was one of the few clues left behind.
For 20 years, detectives relentlessly searched for the killer. But with no fingerprint match in the database, the case quickly grew cold.
However, last year, Barket attempted to apply for a job in Hillsborough County. That job required him to be fingerprinted.
"As a result of his application, his fingerprints were checked against the database which came back with a match to an unsolved," said Mark Brutnell, Special Agent in Charge with the Tampa Bay Region of FDLE.
Barket's fingerprints blew the case wide open.
Multiple agencies worked together, testing DNA and gathering evidence until they were finally able to pin the gruesome murder on Barket.
"Usually in a case like this, DNA is the star, but in this instance the fingerprint match was impetuous of this case being solved and was also the catalyst to start the DNA confirmation," Brutnell said.
For years, Barket had made a life for himself in the Tampa Bay area. He had lived in Brandon and worked as a nurse's aid at an assisted living facility in Riverview.
On Wednesday, Hillsborough County deputies arrested Barket at his apartment, over 200 miles away from the original crime scene.
Delray detectives were finally able to give Barket's family the news they had waited for since 1998.
"It brings a lot of joy to be able to solve a case like this. I've been in contact with the family. They're very happy with the solving of the case," said Robert Stevens, a retired Delray Beach Police detective.
Barket's days of freedom are over. He is currently being held in Hillsborough County, but he will soon be transferred to Palm Beach County where the original crime occurred.
Barket is facing a first-degree murder charge.