LOOGOOTEE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A Loogootee man was arrested after officials in Monroe County, Georgia, issued a warrant for his arrest concerning a cold-case murder.
According to the Washington Police Department, local officials were contacted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia last August regarding a homicide case from 1989. WPD detectives began to assist in the investigation.
That investigation resulted in the arrest Wednesday of Larry R. Padgett Jr, 59, of Loogootee.
According to W.B. Freeman III the Sheriff of Monroe County, GA, DNA evidence has linked Padgett to the sexual assault and murder of 23-year-old Mary Louicile Willfong.
Deer hunters found Willfong in the area of Johnstonville Road near I-75 in Monroe County, Georgia on November 21, 1989. An autopsy of Willfong showed she had been sexually assaulted and determined the cause of death to be strangulation.
While numerous suspects were investigated at the time, no DNA match was found and the case was eventually closed.
In March of 2019, Sheriff Freeman re-opened the investigation. Investigator Marc Mansfield reportedly took evidence gathered in 1989 and had it re-tested through the GBI crime lab as technology had advanced in the years since. DNA International in Miami, Florida also assisted in testing the evidence.
The FBI then took the data from the testing to look for a match and determined it was a possible match to Padgett. After contacting the Washington Police Department additional DNA evidence was gathered and tested, and reportedly matched the DNA taken from the body of Mary Willfong.
Officers from Georgia then drove to Washington, Indiana to arrest Larry Padgett. The sheriff reports that additional evidence linking Padgett to the murder of Willfong was found.
Padgett is currently being held in Indiana awaiting extradition.
Read the full release by the Monroe County Sheriff below;