Harris, a hairstylist who was engaged at the time of her murder, was found dead Aug. 29, 1988 by a roommate in her apartment at 2275 S. Bascom Ave., according to police.
Charles Grant was arrested Tuesday at his mother's mobile home in Ceres on suspicion of fatally stabbing Harris, police said.
He was taken into custody without incident by the Police Department's Mobile Emergency Response Group and Equipment Unit and booked on charges of murder.
Police said Grant, who was known to use drugs around the time of the murder, was a next-door neighbor of Harris. Sgt. Mike Sullivan said Grant had possession of narcotic convictions.
Valley Medical Center records revealed Grant was treated for a laceration to his left hand on the day of the murder and that his wound required sutures, police reported. He also had a cast that was wet and damaged and required repair during the visit, according to police.
Homicide investigators interviewed Grant a few times after the murder and he provided a blood sample, Sullivan said. His DNA was compared with DNA evidence from Harris' apartment and linked him to the crime, according to police.
Police credited the arrest to new forensic technology and "persistent investigative tenacity."
"Over the past 20 years, the men and women of the San Jose Police Department have not forgotten about the Kristi Harris murder and have continually sought her killer," Lt. Junior Gamez said in a prepared statement.
Anyone with information regarding the case is urged to call Detective Sgt. Michael Knox or Detective Sgt. John Seaman at (408) 277-5283. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP.