After nearly 36 years without answers, a North Carolina family has finally got a breakthrough in the case of 4-year-old Jessica Gutierrez’s 1986 disappearance and death. Thomas Eric McDowell, 61, was arrested Thursday in connection to the case and charged with murder, kidnapping and burglary. On the morning of June 6, 1986, the Gutierrez family woke up to find Jessica gone from her bed. A massive search was fruitless and the case eventually went cold. The Lexington County Sheriff’s Office returned to the case last September, interviewing more than 125 people and reviewing 3,500 case files. It led them to McDowell. “Because of the work we did, coming together as a team, we were able to sort and connect more pieces of the puzzle about what happened to Jessica all those years ago,” Sheriff Jay Koon said.
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