PORTLAND - Portland Police have cracked a cold case that has stumped them for years.
Shawntell Moses, 38, was arrested in Washington state on March 3 by the Portland Police Bureau Cold Case Homicide Unit for the murder of 30-year-old Kala Peterson 13 years ago.
"I never thought this day would happen, ever," said Jill Ishizaka, Kala's sister. She'll be in court as Shawntell Moses is arraigned Wednesday morning on three counts of aggravated murder.
The case goes back all the way to December 8, 1995. Near the intersection of Northeast 11th and Oneonta, right by Woodlawn Park, somebody discovered the body. She had been brutally beaten and stabbed, but her killer was nowhere to be found.
The case went cold. "I think it went cold because at the time there weren't a lot of people associated with Kala Peterson in the last few hours of life that could put her in the presence of a suspect or suspects," added detective Jim Lawrence.
But late last month, an anonymous tip was phoned in to CrimeStoppers. Four days later, cold case detectives were in Tacoma, Washington where they arrested Moses in connection with the death of Peterson more than a decade ago.
"It's a very rewarding feeling. All of us who work cold case homicide do it to help families find some measure of justice," said Lawrence. But for Peterson's sister, an arrest in the case means a lot more than justice. "They didn't forget her. They didn't just sweep her under the rug," added Ishizaka.
The case was investigated by Portland homicide detectives for years but was never solved and eventually became a cold case, Det. Mary Wheat said.
One of the original detectives on the case, George Young, now works in the Cold Case unit and assisted in arresting Moses, Wheat said.
Meantime, police were searching for someone they believe to be a material witness in Peterson's death. A warrant was issued for Bruce Edward Murphy, 59, on Tuesday.
Investigators said Murphy could be living on the streets in Portland or in the Bend area. No criminal charges were pending against Murphy in connection to Peterson's death; rather, he was sought as a witness only, police said.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts was urged to contact Portland Police Bureau immediately.