Arrest Made in 35-Year-Old Kidnapping, Murder of 4-Year-Old South Carolina Girl

A 61-year-old North Carolina man has been arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of a 4-year-old girl 35 years ago in South Carolina.

The Lexington County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Department said that Wake Forest Police had arrested Thomas McDowell at his home north of Raleigh on Thursday.

Jessica “Jessie” Gutierrez was abducted from her Lexington home on June 6, 1986, and never seen again, WIS reported.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said that investigators “took a fresh look at this case in September” when prosecutors from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and FBI special agents came to Lexingon, prompting a review of more than 3,500 case file pages and 125 new interviews.

“Because of the work we did, coming together as a team, we were able to sort and connect more pieces of the puzzle about what happened to Jessica all those years ago,” Koon said.

Koon said the state attorney general’s office would prosecute the case, once McDowell is extradited to South Carolina. He was also charged with first degree burglary, the sheriff’s department said.

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[Featured image: Jessica Gutierrez/Lexington County Sheriff’s Department]