There's finally been a break in a Florida cold case murder from 2001.
Randy Petersilge, 51, has been arrested for allegedly beating a friend, 41-year-old Simon Clark, to death on Nov. 28, 2001. Clark's body was found at a construction site for a friend's home, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Police considered Petersilge a suspect from the beginning, but were never able to charge him because key witnesses refused to cooperate, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“He was a person of interest at the time but they couldn’t close the deal,” Detective Joe Ioppolo, New Port Richey Police’s lead detective on the case, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.
Ioppolo explained that he was assigned the case in May 2016, and that it “took a few months to go over everything.”
“We spoke to some witnesses and family members, and brought it to the state,” Ioppolo said. Among those witnesses were some who didn't cooperate the first time around, Ioppolo told the Tampa Bay Times.
On Jan. 11, 2018, a grand jury indicted Petersilge for first-degree murder, local station WPTV reports.
He was already in federal prison after being convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon when he was indicted for the murder; a detainer was placed on him as a result, ABC Actions News reports. Following his release, Petersilge was re-arrested on Friday and charged with first-degree homicide.
“This was the first person I’ve indicted that was already in federal custody,” Ioppolo said, adding that since Petersilge was going to wrap up his sentence for his previous conviction, they let him finish his sentence before re-arresting him.
Clark, the victim, was married with two sons.
"Despite our grief, we maintain an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice for Simon,” his younger son, Adam Clark, wrote in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times last year. "This indictment represents an important step forward in what has been, and will continue to be, a difficult and protracted process."
Petersilge has a long rap sheet in addition to his latest charge: he’s been convicted previously for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, battery on a law enforcement officer, grand theft, and burglary in Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
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