THREE RIVERS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of killing a 19-year-old in 1988 has died, police say.
Robert Odell Waters, 53, was found dead in his cell at the Beaufort County jail in South Carolina, the Three Rivers Police Department said in a Facebook post Saturday.
Waters was taken into custody in South Carolina on April 30 and faced charges of open murder in the death of Cathy Swartz. He was awaiting extradition to St. Joseph County.
Swartz was found dead by her fiance in her Three Rivers apartment on Dec. 2, 1988. Her daughter, 9 months old at the time, was in the next room.
The mother had been beaten, stabbed multiple times and strangled to death. Investigators also found self-defense wounds and signs of attempted rape.
Her ex-boyfriend was taken into custody after her death but was released days later. The investigation eventually went cold, until forensic genetic genealogy tests of DNA found at the scene led investigators to Waters decades later.
Up until that point, Waters, who had been friends with Swartz’s fiance and had no criminal history, had never been a suspect.
He was fingerprinted by the Beaufort Police Department on April 30; One of his fingerprints matched a bloody print found on a phone at the crime scene.
If he had been convicted, Waters could have faced life in prison. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating his death, Three Rivers police say.