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Cold-Case Murder Revived by Simple Job Application

Todd Barket's trial in Florida began Monday
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2019 7:20 PM CDT
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Todd Barket.   (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A 21-year-old cold case has come to life over—of all things—a job application, the Washington Post reports. Sondra Better, 68, was stabbed to death while working at a Florida consignment shop in 1998, her wounded hands suggesting a fight for her life. The killer left a trail of blood, fingerprints, and an empty cash register, but the case cooled off when a national DNA search turned up nothing. Better's husband Zeke, who married her in 1948, longed for an answer until his 2015 death. He even volunteered for the Delray Beach Police Dept. and funded a criminal-justice scholarship at Florida Atlantic University. "It has been very, very hard," he said in 2002. "I will always miss her no matter where my life takes me. I will never ever stop missing her."

Then 51-year-old Todd Barket applied for a nursing-home job in 2018. The Tampa-area man had to submit fingerprints for a background check, which matched him to the Better killing. Seems he also lived near the Delray Beach store at the time and resembled a tall white man seen haggling over a couch a half-hour before Better was found. Police say Barket didn't appear surprised when they knocked on his door in March and told him why. "Okay," he reportedly said with a shrug. But he's pleading not guilty in a trial that began Monday. His attorney argues that evidence with his actual fingerprint has disappeared, per the Palm Beach Post, but prosecutors say his blood is still a match. "He's the one that did it," an assistant state attorney said in court. (Read more cold cases stories.)

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