MONROE - Gerald Baker waited 15 years for the news he received yesterday: The man authorities believe killed his daughter was arraigned in Monroe County's 1st District Court on a murder charge.
Michael Charles Bates, 41, of West Albain Road in Monroe Township was charged with murder in the slaying Nov. 17, 1990, of Connie Baker Slayton, 25. He was being held in county jail without bond.
Ms. Slayton's partially clothed body was discovered by a passer-by along Albain near I-75. She had been stabbed once in the chest, authorities said.
Monroe County sheriff's Detective Dave Davison said semen was recovered from the scene 15 years ago, but crime laboratory technology was not advanced enough to assist deputies in their investigation, which fizzled. It moved into the department's cold- case file.
Detective Davison began working on the case eight years ago. From time to time, he followed up on tips, but nothing led to a suspect.
In late 2003, he asked investigators at the Michigan State Police crime lab in Northville, Mich., to run a test on the stored semen from the Slayton case. In May, the lab turned up a positive DNA test result.
Detective Davison said the lengthy delay was understandable. "They do hundreds of cases every year. The newer cases with suspects and upcoming court dates have higher priority. [Also], it takes a while to do [the research]. It's not like what you see on TV where after a two-minute commercial, they come back and tell you the DNA results," he said.
Detective Davison spent the next few months building a case against Mr. Bates, who was in the county jail on an unrelated parole violation when he was arrested and arraigned yesterday.
Ms. Slayton, the mother of three children, led a troubled life. "She was into prostitution and drugs," Detective Davison said. "But that doesn't mean she deserved to die."
Lois Baker, Ms. Slayton's stepmother, said the family tried to help her stepdaughter through her problems.
"I couldn't get nowhere with her," she said. "She was a pretty girl who got mixed up with the wrong crowd. It's too bad things happened the way they did. No one deserves to die like that."
Mr. Baker, Ms. Slayton's father, said the case has haunted him for years. He said over the years, Detective Davison kept him informed of his progress on the case - a gesture he appreciated. "They stuck with it, and they always let me know," Mr. Baker said.
Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield lauded Detective Davison for his effort. "[He] did an excellent job," he said.
The sheriff said the department does not have the manpower for a cold-case unit, so deputies must pursue leads when they have time.
"It showed initiative and dedication to law enforcement as a whole on the part of Detective Davison to [stay on the case]," Sheriff Crutchfield said.
Said Detective Davison: "It's very satisfying to me that I can bring closure to her parents."
Mrs. Baker said she told her husband deputies would solve the case someday, even if it took 30 years.
"They got him in 15. We're happy now," she said.
Contact George J. Tanber