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Authorities make an arrest in 18-year-old homicide case
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Authorities make an arrest in 18-year-old homicide case

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TIPTON, Iowa (AP) -- A Knoxville man has been charged in a homicide case that has remained unsolved for more than 18 years.

Dean Ray Tumey, 53, was arrested Wednesday in Knoxville and charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Sandra Jo Pittman of Davenport, said Cedar County Sheriff Keith Whitlatch.

``It's been hard today,'' said Eleanor Strong of Montpelier, mother of Pittman. ``I'm weak, and I've cried and cried. But I knew he was going to be caught.''

Chicago and North Western railroad workers found Pittman's body in a roadside park on Highway 30 a mile west of Clarence on Sept. 17, 1980. The teen was from Davenport. An autopsy revealed she died after being struck on her head by a heavy object, possibly a claw hammer or crowbar.

Pittman, who was 17 when she died, was last seen at a Catholic Worker house the day before in Davenport.

Tumey was scheduled to make a court appearance in Cedar County today, the Muscatine County Attorney's office said. Tumey is being held at the Cedar County jail on a $1 million bond.

Strong, the victim's mother, said she never met Tumey and does not know if her daughter knew him.

Cedar County Sheriff Keith Whitlatch would say only that Tumey and Pittman had been ``acquaintances.''

Investigators first sought Tumey for questioning a week after Pittman's body was found but declined at the time to say he was a suspect.

Muscatine County Attorney Richard Phillips will prosecute the case because of conflicts of interest on the part of the Cedar County Attorney's Office and Iowa's attorney general.

Phillips declined to be specific about the conflict of interest but did say it relates to the fact that an Iowa assistant attorney general will be called as a witness in the case. He did not identify that state prosecutor.

Several agencies, including the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Cedar County Sheriff's office and the Marion County Sheriff's Office investigated the case.

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