A career criminal serving three life prison terms in Nevada has been linked to the killing of a Chicago florist more than 15 years ago.
Authorities said Michael Ray Hughes confessed to the Sept. 21, 1988 stabbing death of 42-year-old Beata Lhee, of Wilmette, Ill., during an interview with investigators after DNA testing linked him to the crime scene.
Hughes was taken back to Chicago this week to face a first-degree murder charge, Chicago police spokesman Matthew Jackson told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Hughes, who had lived in Chicago, allegedly killed Lhee in her shop, Ebba Flowers and Gifts, in the Gold Coast area north of downtown Chicago.
The apparent motive in the slaying was robbery, police said.
"In terms of what was taken, it was unclear, only that it was the life of an innocent victim," Jackson said.
The victim, stabbed multiple times in the chest, was found in the restroom the next morning by her husband. Blood evidence at the scene did not match the victim and was believed to belong to the killer, he said.
Hughes has a history of armed robbery convictions in Washoe County. He was required to submit a DNA sample when he was sentenced as a habitual criminal in 1998.
His DNA profile was at some point entered into the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, a national database that enables law enforcement to compare DNA profiles of violent criminals in an effort to solve crimes.
In September, detectives of Chicago's Cold Case Squad were notified they had a DNA match for Lhee's suspected killer. Police said they were unaware of Hughes until they were notified of the DNA match.
Besides confessing in an oral interview, Jackson said Hughes made a videotaped confession.
"It was a positive hit for Hughes," Jackson said. "This really shows the effectiveness of DNA analysis."