ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico — Police have arrested a 64-year-old man in Alamogordo in connection with a 1980 cold case where a woman was found dead in her Southern California apartment.
Andre William Lepere was arrested last week on suspicion of the murder of 79-year-old Viola Hagenkord in Anaheim, California, New Mexico State Police said in a statement on Monday.
A neighbor discovered Hagenkord's body on Feb. 18, 1980, after entering the elderly woman's apartment because she hadn't been seen for two days, police said, “which was unusual because she was well known throughout her apartment complex community.”
Authorities determined Hagenkord had been sexually assaulted and she died of asphyxiation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Lepere faces charges of first-degree murder with a special-circumstance allegation of rape by the Orange County, California district attorney’s office, the newspaper reported.
Lepere is being held without bail in New Mexico’s Otero County Detention Center pending extradition proceedings. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Cold case homicide detectives reopened Hagenkord’s case in September and DNA evidence pointed to Lepere as a suspect, the LA Times reported.
Lepere had lived near Hagenkord and worked as a truck driver and plumber, the newspaper reported. Police said it’s unclear if Lepere had a direct relationship with Hagenkord, noting that detectives haven't determined a motive.