Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Cold case solved: Man sentenced to life for 1987 rape, murder of Polk woman

A 67-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to life in prison after he was found guilty in the rape and murder of a Polk County woman 30 years ago.

Carl Junior McCauley was indicted in 2015 in the March 24, 1987, killing of 41-year-old Karen Ann Watson at her Lake Alfred home.

Watson, a mother of three, died from multiple stab wounds. Her body was found by her husband, Charles, when he returned home from running a business errand. Evidence showed she had sex shortly before her death, investigators said.

Polk County detectives developed McCauley as a suspect in 2014 while investigating Watson's death as a cold case and matched his DNA to the crime scene. Investigators located McCauley living in Sandusky. Ohio, and he was extradited to Florida.

RELATED: Suspect in 1987 slaying extradited to Polk County.

McCauley testified that he had sex with Watson at the home, but she was alive when he left.

Defense attorneys claimed Watson's husband, who died in 2014, killed her after discovering the affair. Prosecutors said the husband was about 20 miles away at the time of the killing, and DNA testing later cleared him.

McCauley's conviction concluded a two-week trial in Bartow. He was sentenced after the jury's decision, according to the office of Polk-Highlands-Hardee State Attorney Brian Haas.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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