Wisconsin authorities have identified the Illinois man charged in connection with the death of an Illinois teen whose body was found 17 years ago in a Racine County marsh.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said 36-year-old James P. Eaton of Palatine was arrested Saturday after years of searching for a match on fingerprints and DNA evidence recovered from the 1997 murder.
"This is a day we have been waiting for nearly 17 years," Schmaling told reporters Tuesday.
Amber Creek, a 14-year-old from Palatine, had run away from a state-run juvenile shelter in Chicago in 1997, just hours after police in Rolling Meadows returned her to the facility.
She was last seen getting into a man's car after leaving a motel party.
Her body was found two weeks later. She'd been beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated with a plastic bag.
Police were able to recover fingerprints from the plastic bag covering her heard and DNA from Creek's body, Schmaling said.
A database hit this past February showed the fingerprints found on the bag matched Eaton's, Schmaling said.
An investigation was launched, and police were able to match DNA from the scene to DNA from a partially used cigarette police recovered from Eaton as he waited for a train in suburban Chicago.
He is being held in Racine on a $1 million bail.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with Amber's mother and father," Schmaling said.
Schmaling asks that anyone with further information about Eaton or the 1997 crime call police at 262-636-3225 or Crime Stoppers at 888-636-9330.