DNA evidence led to the arrest of a murder suspect Wednesday, more than 20 years after a woman's screams echoed through an orchard outside of Granger.

The victim was not discovered for four days, and investigators weren't able to identify a suspect at the time.

Jenece Marie Wilson, a 20-year-old Toppenish resident and member of the Yakama Nation, became one of more than a dozen women who have died mysteriously in and around the Indian reservation between 1980 and 1993.

But Yakima County sheriff's detectives kept the case in mind ever since her 1987 death.

Now Samuel Posada, a 41-year-old Hermiston, Ore., resident who grew up in the Toppenish area, faces a possible death-penalty charge of aggravated first-degree murder, as well as a rape charge.

After learning about the suspect, Wilson's adoptive family flipped through a high school yearbook and spotted Posada's picture, but couldn't recall knowing him.

"You know, I taught school and am trying to wrack my brain to see if I ever had the kid in my class," said adoptive father Jim Wilson, who taught in Toppenish for 30 years. "That was grade school — that was a long time ago."

Posada's arrest — if things had gone according to plan — was supposed to happen on Jan. 6.

With a newly printed arrest warrant in hand, sheriff's detectives headed down the interstate to Hermiston, where they hoped to stage a surprise interview of Posada.

His probation officer told them he had never missed an appointment.

Until that day.

Detectives said they initially believed he and relatives traveled to Texas to visit other family members.

The Texas Rangers, U.S. marshals and Umatilla County sheriff's detectives were called in to help track him, but Yakima County Chief of Detectives Stew Graham said Wednesday evening that Posada may have been in the Hermiston area the whole time.

A Texas Ranger called Posada's father in Texas to pass on a message that his son needed to straighten out the probation problem.

Posada showed up at the probation office in Hermiston on Wednesday afternoon.

Yakima County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Perrault was waiting for him, and he was arrested after a short interview. Graham did not disclose details, but he said investigators will be following up on other information in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, Posada is expected to appear in court in Umatilla County as he goes through the extradition process.

Posada's name may never have come up except for Oregon's collection of DNA from defendants convicted of a broad spectrum of crimes. Information about Posada's criminal history could not be confirmed on Wednesday evening.

Early last year, sheriff's detectives persuaded a Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to use grant funding to submit evidence in the case for DNA testing at a private Texas lab. The funding was originally intended to help solve stranger rapes, not homicides, officials said.

The Wilson evidence, which included clothing scattered around the death scene and other material recovered from her body, had been held by the Washington State Patrol crime lab.

However, a backlog of about 1,000 cases slows down the lab's processing time, especially in crimes where a suspect is not identified or in custody.

The Texas lab was able to locate DNA on some of the evidence. That information was given to the Washington State Patrol lab, which ran the data through state and national DNA databases.

Posada's name popped up. The review showed that his DNA matched that in the Wilson case, according to a report by Detective Perrault that was filed to support the requested charges of first-degree murder and rape.

Jim Wilson said the new development in the case comes as a surprise.

"It's been 21 years, and we pretty much decided that nothing was happening," he said. "We'd come to an end of the road."

Posada's name had never surfaced during the initial investigation. Both he and Jenece Wilson are pictured in the 1984 yearbook from Toppenish High School.

Detectives learned that she had gone to a Tuesday night party in mid-August 1987. She apparently stayed at that home, then decided to hitch a ride to see her boyfriend in Sunnyside the next evening.

She never arrived. The boyfriend later told detectives the two had been planning to move in together within a month, Perrault wrote.

The orchard owner's son found the body on Aug. 9, 1987.

A woman later told deputies that she had heard a scream from that area of the orchard but did not report it at the time.

The coroner had to use dental records to confirm her identity. An autopsy determined she had died from a blow to the head.

Sitting in their Toppenish home Wednesday evening, Jim Wilson and his wife, Sharon, gave an emotional pause as they reviewed old newspaper articles about the discovery of their adopted daughter's body.

Despite the tragedy, Jim Wilson said he has no anger toward Posada.

"I don't have any hatred and I don't want any," he said. "It's just a closing."

DNA has played a critical role in helping sheriff's detectives close two other homicides the same year as Wilson's death.

Those two cases had often been included on the list of mysterious deaths on or around the Yakama reservation, but they were different from most because investigators had long believed that a convicted rapist was responsible.

DNA finally tied John Bill Fletcher Jr. to the rape and stabbing deaths of Theresa Branscomb, 20, and Bertha Cantu, 26, in separate attacks in 1987. The bodies of both women were found in the Parker area.

In 2001, Fletcher pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 years, on top of 41 years for the previous rape conviction.

But a 2002 state Supreme Court ruling overturned the Cantu-Branscomb conviction when justices invalidated the state statute dealing with murders committed during other felonies, including rape.

Fletcher now faces a March trial.

Graham said he does not have any information suggesting that Posada is tied to any other unsolved cases in the Lower Valley.

More than a year ago, federal authorities embarked on a cold-case review of the more than a dozen mysterious deaths of women on the reservation.

Later this month, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane is expected to issue a draft report containing findings on those cases to various agencies involved in the investigations..

Although concerns that a serial killer was at work had swirled around the reservation for years, Graham and other investigators have more recently said a widespread link between the cases is unlikely.

The women died from a variety of causes, and not all of the deaths were homicides, investigators have said.

Wilson's death is believed to be the last of that series under investigation by the sheriff's office that had not already been cleared, Graham said.

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