Job Application Leads Florida Police to Suspect in Cold Case

Job Application Leads Florida Police to Suspect in Cold Case
People are interviewed during the job application process at CityCenter's new career center in Las Vegas , on Jan. 12, 2009 . (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—A job application that required a Florida man to undergo a background check and submit his fingerprints has led to a break in a 1998 slaying case.

Todd Barket, a 51-year-old from Brandon, was arrested on March 27 and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sondra Better. Better was killed at her workplace days before she was set to renew her wedding vows, according to local news outlets.

The 68-year-old had resigned from the job and only had a few days left there. She was stabbed and beaten to death, and police said DNA from the suspect was found at the scene.

“We had fingerprints, we had blood, we even had a possible description from a witness. But the person responsible for this heinous case seemed to just disappear,” Acting Delray Beach Police Chief Javaro Sims said at a Wednesday news conference.

But then Barket applied for a job in December at a fire and water cleanup company that required applicants to undergo a background check and submit fingerprints. In January, those fingerprints were matched to evidence police had submitted in a national database at the time of the slaying. Barket also matched the witness’ description.

Detectives and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents then tracked him down and began monitoring him. Police later obtained Barket’s DNA—it’s unclear how—and it was matched on Tuesday with DNA from the crime scene.

The motive behind the slaying is unclear. Capt. John Crane-Baker says Barket had no contact with law enforcement since 1998 and his criminal history mainly consists of traffic citations. Police say he may have worked in a nursing home since the slaying.

It’s unclear if Barket has a lawyer who can comment on his behalf. He was held Wednesday at the Hillsborough County jail and is set to be extradited to Palm Beach County.

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