A Florida man was arrested last Friday for the alleged rape and murder of a teenage girl in 1977 in Utah, PEOPLE confirms.
A spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department tells PEOPLE that Patrick McCabe, 59, had long been considered a suspect in the cold case sexual assault and homicide of 16-year-old Sharon Schollmeyers.
Sharon’s lifeless body was found in the bathtub of her Salt Lake City apartment on Dec. 5, 1977 — a gruesome discovery made by her mother, who went to check on her after she failed to show up for work. Sharon had been strangled to death, according to police.
The police spokesman confirms Sharon’s mother was let into her daughter’s apartment by McCabe, who was the apartment building’s manager at the time and was 20 years old.
Since his arrest Friday, police allege McCabe has confessed to the teen’s rape and murder, alleging he used the keys he was entrusted with as the building manager to enter Sharon’s apartment, the spokesman says.
McCabe allegedly told investigators he raped her at gunpoint and then brought her to the bathtub, where he strangled her and held her underwater, the spokesman tells PEOPLE.
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Sharon’s body was found the day after her death, according to police.
The police spokesman says that investigators handling the 39-year-old cold case has new tests performed on old DNA samples collected from Sharon’s corpse.
The spokesman says that in the last several months, detectives from Salt Lake City traveled to Florida, where McCabe now lives. “They collected his DNA and interviewed him,” the spokesman tells PEOPLE.
McCabe was taken into custody Friday after lab results allegedly returned a match from the crime scene.
He is being held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted, the police spokesman says.
PEOPLE could not reach Sharon’s mother, Sally Kadleck, on Monday, but she did speak with the Deseret News.
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“What kind of guts he had,” Kadleck told the paper. “I mean, really he knew what he had done and yet he went ahead and let me in.”
She said she is glad an arrest had been made.
“I thought, ‘How am I ever going to live my life not knowing how or why, or who or anything?,’ ” she said. “I’m glad it’s happening.”
Court records indicate McCabe had served time in Florida for a sexual offense against a minor in 1999.
He has yet to enter a plea to the current charges and there is no record of him having legal representation at this time.