WORCESTER, Mass. — The Georgia man facing charges in the 40-year-old killing of a Massachusetts woman had delivered furniture to her home the day before she was slain, prosecutors said Thursday.
Lonzo Guthrie, 69, of Austell, Ga., was arrested Tuesday in the Feb. 22, 1974, stabbing of 21-year-old Eileen Ferro of Shrewsbury.
“Our understanding is that he was delivering some furniture the day before her murder,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said at a news conference. “That’s how he got to know her.”
Guthrie was arraigned as a fugitive in Georgia on Wednesday, when he denied killing anyone. He is fighting extradition to Massachusetts, where he faces a murder charge. It wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer in Massachusetts.
He was tied to Ferro’s death only recently through DNA technology not available in the 1970s.
Guthrie submitted a DNA sample to authorities after a probation violation on a sex charge in California, Early said.
Early’s cold-case unit found viable blood samples from the 1974 crime scene and got a match after putting it into a national DNA database.
Ferro, a dental hygienist who grew up in nearby Worcester, had been slashed in the head and shoulders with a heavy, sharp object, police said. Her husband found the body.
Because there were no signs of a forced entry or a struggle, police at the time focused their investigation on people Ferro knew.
The motive for her killing remains unclear. Police ruled out robbery and said Ferro wasn’t sexually assaulted.
Ferro’s sister, Nancy Donnelly, said her family is elated by the arrest.
“I thought I was going to my grave not knowing,” she told The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, noting that Monday would have been her sister’s birthday. “Both my parents did.”