- Associated Press - Monday, March 20, 2017

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - Investigators say they used DNA to identify a suspect in the strangulation of a Massachusetts teacher’s aide found dead in her apartment in February.

Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Jose Melendez to murder and other charges in connection with the Feb. 5 death of 49-year-old Sandra Hehir. The 55-year-old Melendez was held without bail.

Hehir, a middle school instructional assistant, was found dead on the floor of her Worcester apartment floor by another resident of her building.

Police say Melendez’s DNA was on file because he was a suspect in a 2000 rape. It matched DNA found at the scene of Hehir’s death.

The suspect’s lawyer says he had his client stay out of sight during the arraignment to avoid tainting witness identification in the future.

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