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Man charged in 1987 killing of northern Minnesota woman

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An Iron Range man has been charged in connection with a decades-old homicide.

The body of Leona Mary Maslowski, 83, was discovered in her Virginia home on Oct. 5, 1987. She had been brutally beaten, strangled and stabbed to death, the St. Louis County unsolved homicides website says.

Evidence collected at the scene at the time of her death was tested, but didn't point to a suspect. As the years went on, more evidence was submitted and forensic technology improved, providing new clues about the fingerprints and a palm print located near where Maslowski's body was discovered, the Mesabi Daily News reports.

This led to the arrest of 44-year-old Bruce Wayne Cameron Wednesday. He was charged by criminal complaint with second-degree murder. He made his first court appearance Thursday; bail was set at $1 million.

“As forensic science testing capabilities advance, our ability to find new information in old evidence improves,” BCA Superintendent Wade Setter told the Mesabi Daily News. “Today’s developments in this case are an example of why it is so important that we never give up on an investigation.”

According to the criminal complaint:

Cameron, who was 16 at the time of Maslowski's death, had denied involvement in her murder when questioned by officials in April 2015.

But when confronted by investigators this week about why his palm print was found near her body, he admitted to attending a party in the apartment above Maslowski's the night before her body was found.

He told police he was likely drunk when he went into Maslowski's apartment looking for booze in her kitchen. When she confronted him, he punched her in the face, pushed her down and continued hitting her, then hit her with an object found in the apartment.

Cameron told investigators he possibly choked her, but said he didn't know if there was a knife involved. He said all of her injuries would have been caused by him.

He left her apartment without stealing anything.

Although Cameron was a juvenile when the offense was committed, under law juvenile court lost jurisdiction when he turned 21 years old. Because there is no statute of limitations for murder, Cameron has been charged as an adult, the St. Louis County Attorney's Office said in a news release.

His next court appearance in this case is scheduled for June 17.

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