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DNA links inmate to teen’s ‘00 death

FORREST CITY — DNA samples link an Indiana inmate to the rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother in eastern Arkansas more than a decade ago, police said Wednesday.

Authorities plan to extradite Anthony Johnson to Arkansas, where he is expected to face charges of capital murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of Tawana Blunt, said Forrest City Police Chief E.P. Reynolds.

Blunt had been residing at her Forrest City apartment about two weeks in September 2000 when her body was found, Chief Reynolds said at a news conference. She had been raped, tortured and strangled, he said.

The teenager had a 2-year-old daughter who was staying with relatives the night Blunt was killed, her family said.

Blunt got off work at a restaurant about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 15. She went with some friends to the south end of town, where she hung out until about 3 a.m. Then she headed back to her apartment, where her body was found the next night.

Authorities in the small Arkansas city tried to find her killer but the case went cold. Nearly 12 years later, police said they have found her murderer thanks to a DNA database. An initial match in the database tied Johnson to Blunt’s murder, then officials in Indiana collected more DNA samples from him in prison, where he was sent for beating his girlfriend. Details of that conviction were not immediately available.

At some point, Johnson asked why officials were taking more samples.

“When they told him, ‘This is for Forrest City,’ they said it looked like he had seen a ghost, because this rascal thought he had gotten away with murder,” Mr. Reynolds said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports