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The ex-boyfriend of an Ohio mother who was shot and killed in 2015 inside her home was officially charged this week for her murder.
Thomas Albert, 38, was indicted by a grand jury in Clark County on Monday on aggravated murder, murder, having a weapon under disability, and evidence tampering. Albert is currently in police custody. He was sentenced to 37 years behind bars in 2018 for aggravated robbery and first-degree attempted murder in a separate case.
Investigators credited forensic advancements — particularly with smartphones — for helping pinpoint Albert as a murder suspect and bring charges against him.
“What happened was, cell phone technology and electronics evolved — the technology evolves rapidly just about every day,” Springfield Police Detective Ron Jordan Early told WHIO-TV. “Early on in the investigation, we obtained information but again with the advancements in technology, we were able to see things now and paint a clearer picture of what happened back in 2015.”
Prunty and Albert previously dated but had split in 2015, according to police. Investigators suspect Albert carried out his ex-girlfriend’s murder because he was enraged over their breakup.
“That’s what we’ve gathered during the course of this investigation. This individual was upset. He wanted to be with her, she didn’t want to be with him. She tried to pull away and end the relationship but he didn’t want to do that,” Jordan said. "Someone was very upset over something and essentially took it out on our victim."
Prunty’s family said they were overwhelmed by the bittersweet news.
"It seems like heaven opened up and showered blessings upon us," Patricia Beard, Candance Prunty’s mother, told the Springfield News-Sun. "Justice…that's what we wanted."
Beard, however, said she was unsure if the charges would ultimately bring closure nearly six years after her daughter’s brutal murder.
In October 2015, Prunty, 26, was found shot to death on her kitchen floor after she didn’t pick her kids up at school. Gunshot wounds were found in both her neck and head, police said.
Prior to her death, Prunty’s car and residence had been vandalized, according to WHIO-TV.
Albert was identified as a person of interest in the case the same year. But for years, the investigation remained at a stand-still, haunting both Prunty’s family and investigators.
“It’s been a horrific journey and it still is and then not knowing,” Beard told the Springfield News-Sun in 2019. “Not knowing what took place in that house that day.”
Law enforcement officials also received a flurry of tips, but they were to no avail.
“Sometimes you think a case may be at a standstill and then out of the blue — something can change that,” Jordan told the newspaper. “There are three young boys out there that will never see their mother again, and I don’t think that’s right. I think it’s unfair to her kids and her family — and her too.”
Prunty’s children were one, four, and seven years old at the time of her murder.
Albert is currently being housed at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Scioto County, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction. Prior to the recent indictment, his expected release date was listed as 2045.
Prunty graduated from South High School in 2008 and later studied business at Clark State Community College, according to her obituary. She received a certificate of completion in business office administration in 2015. She was known to friends and family as “Pooky.”
If convicted in Prunty’s murder, Albert could be sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors indicated they won’t seek the death penalty.
“Not in this case,” Dan Driscoll, Clark County Prosecutor, told WHIO-TV. “But this will be a chance for him to spend the rest of his life in prison. We looked at the aggravated murder because we believed there was prior calculation and design in this case. Basically, that he planned this murder out.”
Driscoll’s office wasn’t immediately reachable for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Thursday.
It’s unclear if Albert has retained legal representation regarding the new charges.
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