Police charged a Cherryville, N.C, man Monday in the 2003 killing of an elderly woman whose death was among three that baffled by police and raised questions about a possible serial killer.
Margaret Tessneer, 79, of Shelby, N.C., was found dead in her bed with her phone line ripped out and door unlocked on Sept. 20, 2003. Two other elderly Shelby women died under similar circumstances during a four-month span that year.
Police at the time were unable to determine whether any of the deaths were homicides, but said the cases were suspicious. Family members then criticized the department for mishandling the investigation.
Six years later, 50-year-old Donald Eugene Borders has been charged with murder, rape and breaking and entering in Tessneer's death.
In a news release Monday, Shelby police refused to give further details. It remains unclear what evidence led them to Borders, or whether police consider him a suspect in the other deaths. But police interviewed Borders in 2004 as a witness in the cases, saying then he wasn't a suspect.
Tessneer's daughter declined comment Monday night, but her husband, Tommy Clark, said the family is relieved.
"We're just glad they've arrested somebody," Clark said. The lack of closure has "been tough, but we've made it."
In March 2004, Shelby detectives interviewed Borders in Charlotte and stressed he wasn't a suspect: "He's not a dangerous, wanted person," said Tandy Carter, then Shelby's police chief. Investigators said Borders was homeless and that he was a helpful and non-evasive witness.
Borders, who has a lengthy arrest record, is being held without bond in Cleveland County's jail.
Read the full story at CharlotteObserver.com