Dale Ewers has been charged with four criminal counts in the 1990 shooting death of Mercedes Perez in Miami Beach, Florida

By Chris Harris
January 19, 2017 03:11 PM
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Florida investigators say they have at last solved a 25-year-old cold case murder and sexual assault, PEOPLE confirms.

Police in Miami Beach, Florida, this week announced the arrest and extradition of Dale Ewers, 53, in the 1990 shooting death of Mercedes Perez. Authorities allege that Ewers executed Perez, 34, at her apartment — and then sexually assaulted her roommate — more than 25 years ago after he forced his way into their home.

Ewers was extradited Wednesday from his native Jamaica, police said. An arrest warrant was issued for him in October.

He has been charged with four criminal counts, including first degree murder, armed robbery, armed sexual battery and kidnapping.

The Scene of the Crime

On Sept. 21, 1990, Miami Beach police officers responding to reports of shots fired arrived at Perez’s home to find her dead on the floor from a single gunshot to the face.

Perez’s roommate witnessed the slaying and told police the killer sexually assaulted her before fleeing their apartment, according to Ewers’ arrest warrant, which was obtained by PEOPLE.

The roommate described the alleged killer as a black male in his 40s with a thin mustache, large lips and a medium build. The suspect stood about 5-feet-8-inches, she told police.

Ewers’ arrest warrant alleges he knocked on Perez’s apartment door the afternoon of Sept. 21, 1990. She answered it, leaving the door slightly ajar while retrieving some information Ewers had requested. Ewers was reportedly well dressed and had asked for the complex manager’s phone number.

Perez’s roommate told police that she was in her bedroom, getting dressed, when Ewers started knocking. Moments later, she exited her room to find Ewers standing in the living room — a handgun in his right hand.

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The warrant alleges that Ewers grabbed the roommate around the neck and placed the barrel of the gun against her temple. As Perez returned to the living room, the warrant claims, Ewers pulled the trigger.

Perez, shot, immediately collapsed to the floor, hitting her head on a piece of furniture on the way down. Ewers then allegedly sexually assaulted her roommate before placing her in a closet.

He demanded cash and fled after stealing several items from the apartment, the warrant alleges.

Police: How the Case Was Cracked

The shooting and sex assault went unsolved for decades. But in 2010, it was assigned to a detective who resubmitted several pieces of evidence for forensic analysis. A DNA profile was developed from the evidence and, in 2012, the data was entered into CODIS, the national database for DNA.

Forensic specialists matched the DNA profile to Ewers, who had been arrested in 2008 by the Massachusetts State Police on a fugitive warrant, burglary charges and for dealing in stolen property.

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Ewers spent six months in a Massachusetts jail before being deported back to Jamaica, according to the warrant.

Later that same year, Perez’s roommate positively identified him from a photographic lineup.

According to his arrest warrant, Ewers was serving time in Jamaica for a burglary conviction before being released to the custody of the Miami Beach Police Department.

Ewers has yet to appear before a judge to enter a plea to the charges against him. Court records show he does not have a lawyer.