DNA link leads to arrest of ex-Valley man
The victim's body was found near Western Reserve Middle School.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A DNA match from a 1994 slaying has resulted in a former Cortland man's being charged with the rape and murder of a Warren woman.
William Keith Gunther Jr., 35, whose last known address was Old Oak Drive, has been arrested in Miami, Fla., and waived extradition there Wednesday.
Gunther was secretly indicted by the Trumbull County grand jury on charges of murder with a firearm specification and rape.
Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor, said Gunther has been on the run and was arrested after information was gathered by the Trumbull County Homicide Task Force. The unit is made up of Warren police, the county prosecutor's office and U.S. Marshals Service.
"They really did a good job in tracking him down," Becker said Thursday.
Becker said it was a CODIS hit that led to Gunther's identity as a suspect in the Jan. 15, 1994, shooting death of Priscilla Code, 48, who lived on Highland Avenue at the time. CODIS is a database operated by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science in Richmond, Va.
Code was found shot near Western Reserve Middle School on what Becker described as the "coldest day of the winter."
CODIS is an acronym for Combined DNA Index System. It's a national computer database designed by the FBI to store DNA profiles from convicted offenders as well as crime scene evidence.
All people who have been convicted of a felony after July 1, 1990, are required to provide a blood or cheek cell sample for DNA analysis.
Becker said that Gunther was in Ohio's prison system from Aug. 6, 1996, to April 2, 2004, after being convicted of attempted felonious assault.
It was the Gunther's DNA that led to his indictment, Becker said, although he declined to be specific as to what evidence was matched.
Becker said Gunther will be returned to Trumbull County in a few days for his arraignment in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
If convicted, Gunther faces 18 years to life on a murder charge with the gun specification and eight to 28 years on a rape charge.