LAKE ALFRED, Fla. - A Polk County woman's murder that went cold for 27 years has been solved, according to detectives.
Deputies in Sandusky, Ohio, took Carl McCauley into custody on Wednesday in the murder of Karen Watson in March 1987 at her Lake Alfred home.
McCauley was a friend of the Watson family, but investigators said Thursday that evidence collected at the murder scene connects him to the crime.
"Everything she did, she did for us," said Chuck Watson, Karen's son. "I never gave up hope, but I had to put it somewhere else to manage it and move on with my life."
Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters DNA testing shows McCauley had sex with the victim and detectives believe he's the one who stabbed her 11 times.
Watson's husband found her naked, lifeless body later that day on the living room couch.
McCauley always told investigators he was never at Watson's house and knew nothing of the murder.
"Before asking for his lawyer, Carl changed his story. Isn't that amazing? He said he did have sex with her but didn't kill her," Judd said Thursday. "The case remained cold for many, many years, but the case has never been forgotten."
The murder scene in Lake Alfred changed over the years, but neighbors still talk about the case from time to time.
"Never give up. Never ever give up," said Alicia Jeffries, who lives right next to the old Watson family home.
Karen's husband, Charles, lived on the property until June of this year when he passed away -- just months before deputies arrested his wife's suspected killer.
Investigators said taking a fresh look at the case using better DNA technology that wasn't around in the 80s is what solved it.
It put to rest a haunting mystery for the family.
"I'm just grateful that they made the effort to pursue this cold case," Chuck Watson said.
McCauley faces an extradition hearing in the coming days. If he waives extradition, then he will be transported to Polk County to face a judge on a charge of murder.