More than 11 years after the body of Petaluma trucker Bob Nelson was found dumped off the side of Interstate 85 outside Montgomery, Alabama, authorities have arrested a suspect in the case.
The break in the case came when DNA evidence found in the cab of Nelson's rig was linked to the suspect, who has a long criminal record.
Gary Lee Poisel Jr., 39, was arrested Tuesday in his home state of Texas for suspected murder and first-degree robbery, Alabama state authorities said.
Poisel, who was released from his last stay in prison on Jan. 4, is awaiting extradition to Alabama at the Randall County Jail in Amarillo, Tex., where he lives, authorities said.
Nelson's widow, Mary Ann Nelson, while pleased by the arrest, said Thursday it also has prompted a new round of mourning for her and her two adult children, Kelly and Bobby.
"It doesn't seem real," said Nelson, who retired five years ago from her job as a legal assistant in the Sonoma County criminal justice system. "My first reaction was I was very, very happy. And of course I broke down into tears because I just never thought they were going to ever find anybody that was related to the case."
Her husband's body was found on July 2, 1999 by an inmate work crew along a rural stretch of Highway 85 about 20 miles outside of Montgomery.
He had been stabbed multiple times with a small knife, including a jab that opened an artery in his neck, authorities said.
The abandoned truck cab, blood spattered in its interior, was found 300 miles away at a north Georgia truck stop. The doors were unlocked, the keys were in the ignition and Nelson's heart and blood pressure medications were inside.
A receipt found inside indicated Nelson, 59, had fueled his big rig in Montgomery two days before his body was found. Missing were his wallet, a small television and an inverter used to run it, authorities said.