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Father arrested for daughter's 1983 murder

April 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An arrest has been made in the cold case murder of a little San Bernardino girl. Detectives arrested 56-year-old Charles Austin on Wednesday night at a bar in Middletown, Ohio, one day after he was charged with the 1983 murder of his 5-year-old daughter in San Bernardino County. On Sunday, March 27, 1983, Kelly Austin was found unresponsive in bed at her father's home. Medical aid responded and attempted to resuscitate her, however they were unsuccessful.

In 2003, at the request of Kelly's mother, the case was re-examined by homicide detectives. Additional interviews were done, however the case stalled when Kelly's father, Charles Austin could not be located. Additionally in 2003, medical examiners concluded that Kelly died of suffocation by smothering.

"Twenty-seven years ago she died and supposadly passed away in her sleep and we all thought that something strange was going on. The whole family felt that way," said Randy Luke, the victim's uncle.

In January 2010, Sheriff's Cold Case detectives began to evaluate the case. Detectives conducted additional interviews and hoped to determine the whereabouts of Charles Austin. As they prepared their itinerary for a cross-country trip to work on several cold cases, detectives Rob Alexander and Greg Myler determined that Charles Austin was a transient living in Middletown, Ohio.

In mid-February the detectives made contact with Austin and spent time talking to him about his daughter and the circumstances surrounding her death in 1983.

Upon returning to San Bernardino, detectives met and discussed the case with Deputy District Attorneys John Thomas, Gary Fagan and Michael Fermin. On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, a $2 million arrest warrant was issued for Charles Austin.

"What our family wants at this time is to get closure. This is a step in the right direction for the justice for Kelly," said Luke.

Austin will go through the extradition process and eventually return to San Bernardino County.

Anyone with information about this case, or any other cold case, is urged to contact Detective Rob Alexander, Detective Greg Myler or Deputy District Attorney John Thomas at the Specialized Investigation Division (909) 387-3589.


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