It was a case that went cold for almost a decade, but there was finally justice Tuesday for a Landover, Md., woman who was brutally murdered in 1998.
A Prince George's County judge sentenced 32-year-old Gary Parham Jr. to 25 years in prison for the slaying of Theodora Lynette Cooper. Cooper, who was 26 when she was murdered, left behind two young sons.
Her encounter with her convicted killer apparently began in mid-summer of 1998, when the two met and may have started a "minor intimate relationship," according charging documents filed in the case.
But a few months later, in August, the man Cooper was more seriously involved with -- identified as Marcus Honesty, the father of Cooper's second child -- found Cooper dead of multiple stab wounds in the hallway of her apartment. The charging documents also said there were signs of assault and a serious struggle before she was killed.
All leads in the case were exhausted, and the identity of Cooper's murderer remained a mystery until 2004, when Maryland State Police determined there was DNA from an unknown person at the scene. Police ran the DNA through its database and found it to be a match with Parham, whose DNA was on file for a previous robbery conviction in Prince George's County.
By then, Parham's wherabouts were unclear. But reports by Joe Krebs on NBC4 and on America's Most Wanted gave the case enough exposure for the news to reach Parham's girlfriend in 2009. She turned him in to authorities, according to Prince George's County police.
Parham was arrested in Miami, Fla., and extradited back to Maryland. Charging documents said he entered an Alford plea (asserting innocence, but admitting there's enough evidence to be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt) to a second-degree murder charge in the death of Cooper.
Now that Parham will be put behind bars for the killing, Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey praised authorities' work with the state's DNA system in helping with the conviction.
"Today's sentencing ... is yet another successful example of how DNA technology is an effective tool for fighting violent crime," said Ivey. "Without it, this case would have never been solved, and a murderer would still be loose on our streets."
Ivey said Parham may also face additional jail time for charges in other crimes, which are pending in Montgomery County.