Todd Barket is a Florida man charged in the 1998 cold case murder of 68-year-old Sondra Better after he submitted his fingerprints for a background check while applying for a job, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
In August 1998, Better, a sales clerk at Lu Shay’s Consignment Shop in Delray Beach, was beaten and stabbed to death days before her planned retirement during a robbery.
Police had no leads on a suspect for 20 years — until Barket applied for a job as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. He submitted his fingerprints for a routine background check with the Agency for Healthcare Administration and police were notified of a “reverse hit.”
Barket’s prints matched the prints found at the murder scene 20 years earlier.
Barket, 51, was arrested Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sondra Better, 68, Was Beaten & Stabbed to Death 1998
Sonda Better, a 68-year-old sales clerk at Lu Shay’s Consignment Shop in Delray Beach was found in a pool of her own blood by police.
She was surrounded by shards of glass, a heavy ashtray, and two decorative marble balls.
An autopsy determined that Better had been repeatedly hit in the head with a blunt object and stabbed twice in the neck. One of her fingers had been severed and she had defensive wounds on her hands.
Police said a cake cutter was missing from the store and may have been used to stab the clerk.
Fingerprints found on one of the marble balls later came back as Todd Barket’s.
2. Better Planned to Retire Days After Todd Barket Killed Her, Police Say
Police said Better planned to retire just days after she was killed.
Police said Wednesday that Better’s last day at the shop was just days away and she was planning to go on a trip to New York.
Better and her husband Seymour Better planned to renew their wedding vows on the trip, police said.
“When you get a case where there’s a true innocent victim, it’s hard to let it go,” Robert Stevens, the lead detective on the case who retired in 2007, said at a press conference Wednesday.
3. Police Obtained 36 DNA Samples But Never Got a Match
Police recovered evidence from the scene, including the marble ball containing fingerprints, but never got a match.
Stevens said he obtained 36 male donors in the case but never got a match.
“The person responsible for this heinous case just seemed to disappear,” Delray Beach Chief Javaro Sims said at the news conference.
4. Todd Barket Was Arrested After Submitting Fingerprints for Job Application
Todd Barket was never a suspect in the murder and appears to have stayed out of trouble during the two decades since the murder.
In January, Barket applied for a job as a certified nursing assistant and submitted fingerprints to the Agency for Healthcare Administration for a routine background check.
The agency notified Delray police of a “reverse hit” when Barket’s prints matched those found on the marble ball. The prints had been stored in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
5. Barket Has Been Charged With Better’s Murder
After the fingerprints came back as a match, detectives obtained a search warrant and collected a DNA sample from Barket. The sample came back as a match to the DNA found at the crime scene.
Barket told police that he had lived in the area and it was possible he had visited the consignment shop. Asked about a scar on his chin, which police suspected he suffered in the struggle with the sales clerk, Barket claimed he had been bitten by a dog.
Barket was ultimately arrested Wednesday by Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents.
He has been charged with first-degree murder.