Andre William Lepere of Alamogordo, New Mexico, was arrested Wednesday on a murder charge, according to Anaheim police Sgt. Shane Carringer. Lepere is being held without bail in Otero County in New Mexico, where he's awaiting extradition hearings, Carringer said.
Lepere is accused of raping and killing 79-year-old Viola Hagenkord, who died of asphyxiation, Carringer said. Lepere lived near the victim in Anaheim, but was not previously acquainted with her, Carringer said.
Police were called to her apartment in the 2500 block of West Winston Road on Feb. 18, 1980, when a concerned neighbor who hadn't seen her for two days, which was unusual, entered her apartment and found her body, Carringer said.
The case went cold until September of last year when detectives took another crack at it with help from the Orange County Crime Lab and the FBI's Orange County Violent Crime Task Force. Together, they were able to develop DNA evidence that linked Lepere to the crime, Carringer said.
Lepere made a living as a truck driver and plumber, and has lived in New Mexico since the 1990s, Carringer said. He is twice divorced and was unmarried at the time, Carringer said.
Lepere is charged with murder with a special-circumstance allegation of rape during a murder, Carringer said.