(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — Police have arrested a 42-year-old man and charged him with murder in the case of a Florida girl who vanished almost 20 years ago.
Andrea Gail Parsons, 10, of Port Salerno, Fla., was last seen on July 11, 1993, shortly after 6 p.m. She had just purchased candy and soda at a grocery store when she waved to a local couple as they drove by on an area street and honked, police said.
Thursday, Martin County Sheriff’s Department officials arrested Chester Duane Price, 42, who recently lived in Haleyville, Ala., and charged him with first-degree murder and kidnapping of a child under the age of 13, after he was indicted by a grand jury.
Price was acquainted with Andrea at the time of her disappearance, and also knew another man police once eyed as a potential suspect, officials told ABC News affiliate WPBF in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“The investigation has concluded that Price abducted and killed Andrea Gail Parsons,” read a sheriff’s department news release. “Tragically, at this time, her body has not been recovered.”
The sheriff’s department declined to specify what evidence led to Price’s arrest for the crime after 19 years or to provide details to ABC News beyond the prepared news release.
Reached by phone, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman said she did not know whether Price was yet represented by a lawyer.
Price was being held at the Martin County Jail without bond and was scheduled to make his first court appearance via video link at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning.
In its news release, the sheriff’s department cited Price’s “extensive criminal history with arrests dating back to 1991” that included arrests for cocaine possession, assault, sale of controlled substance, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of domestic violence injunction.
“The resolve to find Andrea and get answers surrounding the circumstances of her disappearance has never wavered as detectives and others assigned have dedicated their careers to piecing this puzzle together,” Martin County Sheriff Robert L. Crowder said in a prepared statement. “In 2011, I assigned a team of detectives, several ‘fresh sets of eyes,’ to begin another review of the high-volume of evidence that had been previously collected in this case.”
A flyer dating from the time of Andrea’s disappearance, and redistributed by the sheriff’s office after the arrest, described her as 4-foot-11 with hazel eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing blue jean shorts, a dark shirt and clear plastic sandals, according to the flyer.
The sheriff’s department became involved in the case after Andrea’s mother, Linda Parsons, returned home from work around 10 p.m. on July 11, 1993, to find her daughter missing and called police, according to the initial sheriff’s report.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire