Fingerprints required for job application leads to arrest in 1998 murder case

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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1998 Murder Case Solved When Fingerprints for Job Application Leads to Arrest

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

More than 20 years after a woman was murdered in a South Florida consignment shop, a 51-year-old man was arrested after police said fingerprints he submitted for a job application matched those found at the scene, WPEC reported.

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Todd Barket, 51, was arrested Wednesday by Delray Beach police and charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 24, 1998, killing of 68-year-old Sondra Better, WTVJ reported.

Barket, from the Tampa suburb of Brandon, was being held in the Hillsborough County jail without bond and will be extradited to Palm Beach County, the television station reported.

In December, Barket applied for a job with a fire and water cleanup company that required him to submit his fingerprints and have a background check, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

In January, those fingerprints matched evidence Delray Beach police had submitted to a national database after Better was killed, the newspaper reported.

“Our detectives worked years trying to find the killer in this case,” acting Delray Beach police Chief Javaro Sims said at a news conference Wednesday. “We had fingerprints, we had blood, we even had a possible description from a witness. But the person responsible for this heinous case seemed to just disappear.”

Better was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death at Lu Shay's Consignment Shop in Delray Beach, WTVJ reported. A heavy glass ashtray was shattered around her, and decorative marble balls were by her corpse, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Police found blood from Better's body trailing to the cash register and out the front door to the sidewalk, WPEC reported.

“She was violently killed by an unknown assailant,” Sims said at the news conference. “She was stabbed, she was bludgeoned, and no one deserves to die in that manner.”

Barket was 29 at the time of Better's killing, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Police believe he may have worked at a nursing home and stayed out of trouble, the newspaper reported.

"It brings a lot of joy to you when you can solve a case like this," former Detective Robert Stevens, who worked on the case before retiring in 2007, told WPTV.

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