Detectives arrested 61-year-old David Dixon, after DNA in a cold case led them to him in connection to the murder of Rachel Moncrief.
DNA testing did not exist in 1979 when the murder case happened. But there is no statute of limitations on murder, and thanks to evidence that was preserved, a suspect is now behind bars.
Dixon appeared in court for arraignment in a wheelchair Friday. He suffered a stroke about 10 days ago.
The 61-year-old roofer from Richmond is being charged with the 1979 murder of a security guard in Santa Clara. Rachel Moncrief, 50, had been stabbed 30 times while guarding an RV dealership overnight.
The recently re-opened cold case unit at the Santa Clara County district attorney's office did DNA testing of blood on the victim's clothing and a marijuana cigarette.
"When the lab found that blood stain, obtained a DNA profile, they uploaded it into the system and got a hit," cold case unit leader Ted Kajani said.
Kajani says DNA for both Dixon and the victim was also found on the marijuana cigarette.
Dixon's relatives stand up for him.
"It's just shocking to the family and everybody," Dixon's brother-in-law Kreig Carrier said. "I think they've got the wrong guy."
The prosecutor says Dixon's recent stroke will not have any bearing on proceeding with the 32-year-old case.
"This is what happens with these older cases is you have older defendants, but we still think it's very important for us to handle this case as we would any other case," deputy district attorney Angela Bernhard said.
The cold case unit in Santa Clara County has broken three cases since it was restored in February. More cold cases are under review.
"There's nothing more gratifying than going to someone's mother or someone's daughter, another loved one and say, 'We've solved this case, we're finally going to have justice,'" Kajani said.
A musical instrument store called the Starving Musician just moved in where the murder occurred in 1979. The staff is amazed how DNA testing cracked this case.
"We're right in the area where a lot of that research is being done; it makes you kind of proud to live in the Bay Area," Starving Musician general manager Vernon Anderson said.
Investigators say Dixon's DNA was already in a criminal database because felons are required to provide samples, but no one is talking about his past history.