A California man has been arrested in the cold case murder of a 20-year-old woman who was killed four decades ago around the corner from the donut shop where she worked.
Phillip Wilson was arrested in the murder of Robin Brooks, whose body was found in her Rosemont-area apartment on April 24, 1980. She had been sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed, according to Sacramento television station KOVR. Authorities announced Wilson’s arrest on the 40th anniversary of the woman’s killing.
“I’ve dreamed of this day to actually be able to stand up here and say we have arrested the man responsible for this crime,” Sgt. Micki Links said at a press conference.
Links said she has worked the case for the past 16 years.
“All these cases are very personal to me, this one specifically, because I worked so hard on it and for so long.”
Brooks' family said the case had caused a lifetime of “heartbreaking pain.”
“The whole thing was so horrific — it was a pure nightmare,” Maria Arrick, Brooks’ sister, told Oxygen.com. “The family and friends that are left behind for decades — 40 years — trying to figure out how to live their life while he goes on and lives this normal life … like nothing ever happened. The way he treated her, what he did to her was horrific, it’s awful and unbelievable,” she added. “He’s an evil monster.”
The 62-year-old Arizona realtor called Wilson’s arrest “bittersweet.”
“Robin’s death was a devastating loss to our family ... of which we have never recovered,” she also said during a press conference last week. “The senselessness of this crime, and it was horrible, and what was done to our lovely, compassionate, sweet Robin defies all explanation. She had her whole life in front of her.”
The woman’s sibling described Brooks as “sweet,” “carefree,” and “very outgoing.”
Brooks’ family said Wilson lived in the same apartment complex where her body was found. The 20-year-old worked at a nearby donut shop at the time.
For decades, the search for Brooks’ killer had gone cold. However, in 2004, forensic DNA evidence led to a break in the case, which ultimately resulted in Wilson’s arrest roughly 16 years later. Prosecutors largely credited the investigative technique of genetic genealogy — which has solved scores of cold cases across the country — with pinpointing Brooks’ alleged killer.
“We must all acknowledge that DNA and its ability to not only solve crime but to identify the guilty and exonerate to eliminate those who are not, has not only evolved, but advanced, really, in a revolutionary way,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.
“For Maria and the rest of her family, on this day, the 40th anniversary of her murder, I hope that today that your world has a little more color, and a little more light than it did before.”
Wilson was arraigned on Monday, according to San Diego television station KGTV. He was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair, the victim’s family said. He’s being held without bail at a Sacramento County jailhouse, according to online jail records.
The woman’s family hopes the 71-year-old will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“Life will be hard for him at 80 years old in the general population,” Arrick said. “He’ll suffer. He’ll never suffer like Robin suffered but he’ll suffer.”
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