Indiana Man Arrested for 1989 Georgia Murder, Thanks to DNA

The rape and murder of a 23-year-old Georgia woman in 1989 has been solved with the help of genealogical DNA.

Larry Padgett, 59, was arrested earlier this week in Loogootee, Indiana, where he now lives, for the murder of Mary Louicile Willfong, whose body was found by deer hunters on November 21, 1989, along Johnstonville Road in Monroe County, the sheriff’s office there said.

Tips came in indicated that Willfong had been seen at the state Farmers Market in Forest Park Georgia getting in to a tractor trailer with a white man, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators had several suspects and took DNA from them, but none of the DNA matched what was found on the victim.

“The case was eventually closed and was unsolved,” the sheriff’s office said.

Inestigators reopened the case nearly three years ago, however, and resubmitted the DNA found to the state crime lab for new tests based on new technology.

DNA International in Florida then conducted a genealogical trace and found a possible suspect — Padgett.

“The FBI Evidence Recovery Team and investigators with the Washington Police Department (in Indiana) were able to retrieve additional evidence from the suspect,” the sheriff’s office said. “DNA evidence was retrieved and transported to the GBI crime-lab for DNA testing. This testing resulted in a match with the DNA taken from the body of Mary Willfong.”

Padgett is being held in Indiana pending extradition to Georgia.

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[Featured image: Mary Willfong/handout]