- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SAN DIEGO (AP) - An Arizona man was arrested this week on suspicion of killing his girlfriend in Southern California 25 years ago amid a custody battle over their young daughter, authorities said.

Davette Gaunt was 32 when she disappeared and her body was never found.

Christopher McDonald, 64, was arrested Monday at his home in Safford, Arizona, about 150 miles east of Phoenix, according to San Diego County sheriff’s officials. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney.

Gaunt and McDonald had been fighting for custody of their 2-year-old when Gaunt vanished in 1992, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday (https://bit.ly/2wPOFIz ).

“We believe the murder occurred in their house and that she was the victim of domestic violence,” sheriff’s homicide unit Lt. Kenn Nelson said. “It’s a circumstantial case. We presented it to the DA’s office and got a warrant” for McDonald’s arrest.

Gaunt’s mother, reached at her Delaware home, was “beside herself with joy and thankful” that an arrest has been made, Nelson said.

Cold-case investigators began interviewing witnesses again in 2011. Talking to old witnesses led them to new ones.

“Witnesses sometimes withhold information initially,” Nelson said. “Separated by time and distance, some are more willing to tell what they know.”

At some point, McDonald handed her daughter over to his parents to raise, the newspaper said. She’s now 27.

McDonald will be extradited to San Diego County to face the murder charge.


Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, https://www.utsandiego.com

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