CLAYTON, N.C. — The Johnston County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday that they have identified and arrested a man in connection with a murder that occurred nearly 50 years ago when a Benson woman disappeared while going to pick up her son from school.
"Today is a good day," Sheriff Steve Bizzell said during an afternoon press conference. "Today is a great day for the Neighbors family."
Larry Joe Scott, 65, has been charged with felony murder and first-degree kidnapping, authorities said.
Scott was being held in a Bradenton, Florida jail while awaiting extradition back to North Carolina, the sheriff said.
The suspect was said to be homeless in Florida at the time of his arrest. It was not immediately clear when he could be returned to Johnston County.
An arrest has long eluded investigators and it wasn't until the recent advent of DNA that authorities were able to finally name a suspect and make an arrest, Bizzell said.
District Attorney Susan Doyle on Tuesday praised the tenacity of the sheriff and state crime lab workers.
"For almost 47 years, people thought this day would never come," she said. "But this day has come."
Bonnie Neighbors, 33, disappeared in December 1972 while on her way to pick up her son from school. After an extensive search, the mother of two from Benson was found slain in an abandoned migrant worker housing unit. Her infant son was found huddled next to her body unharmed.
Her killer has remained at large since then, but investigators said they were able to use DNA to help identify a Florida man believed responsible for her death.
In 2007, Bizzell spoke to WRAL News about the slaying.
“In 1972, I was only 14 years of age, but I remember that case,” Bizzell said at the time.
During the press conference, the sheriff said Scott was a homeless man who frequented labor camps in the area where Neighbors lived.
He said he was unaware of a connection between the suspect and Neighbors.
It was not immediately clear when Scott moved to Florida but Bizzell said the case remained under investigation.
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