INDIANAPOLIS - Twelve years after a man was found beaten, bound and strangled in a downtown home, cold case detectives believe they have solved the slaying.
The case began in May 2000, when 76-year-old Betty Rhoades was badly beaten by a man who tried to rape her in her home in the 300 block of East 12th Street.
As detectives were investigating, the woman told them she was concerned about the whereabouts of her 58-year-old son, John Rhoades.
Officers searched the home and found John Rhoades tied up and fatally strangled in the basement.
The investigation eventually went cold, but detectives got new insight earlier this year when DNA tests of evidence at the scene showed a match, police said.
Detectives interviewed Currie O'Bryant, who is currently serving a 155-year sentence at the Pendleton Correctional Facility for the shootings of five people in 2002.
Betty Rhoades, who is now 88 years old, identified O'Bryant as the man who beat and tried to rape her, police said.
"I'd given up hope. I really had. I said, 'After 12 years, they're never going to find him,'" Betty Rhoades said.
Betty Rhoades said she's lived in fear for the past 12 years.
"When I would go out, a man walking behind me, I always cross the street. That's the part that gets to you. You're always continually worried that he's somewhere out there waiting for you," she said.
O'Bryant was served Wednesday on a preliminary charge of murder.
While Betty Rhoades and detectives celebrate this latest success, the news is tempered with the sobering reality that in just a few weeks, federal funding for the cold case unit will run out.
Over the past six years, IMPD's cold case unit has solved 16 murder cases that had languished for decades.
IMPD's cold case unit has more than 700 unsolved homicides, dating back to the November 1934 murder of an Indianapolis cab driver. In January, the unit will lose federal funding and four detectives.
"It means we'll have to do more with less," said Capt. Craig Converse with the IMPD homicide unit. "And of course, homicide cases, there's no statute of limitations. So they're always on our radar screen. We always want to be there for the victims and the victims' families."
The cold case unit has screened dozens of DNA-rich cases now ready for submission for testing.
Two of the unit's detectives, retired officers, have said they will stay on and work for free.
The unit will re-apply for federal funding in 2014, keeping alive hope for the survivors of unsolved murders.