Modesto Police have arrested a suspect in an 8-year-old murder, potentially resolving the 1999 disappearance of Dena Raley-McCluskey.
Officers arrested Russell Jones, 47, of Modesto and booked him in Stanislaus County Jail about 9 p.m. Thursday night on a murder charge, police Sgt. Craig Gundlach said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Raley-McCluskey, 36, was last seen in Modesto on Oct. 10, 1999. Her boyfriend reported her missing three days later. The next day, police found her 1987 Nissan Stanza on Oakdale Road in northeast Modesto. Her keys and purse were not in the unlocked car.
Police believe they discovered her body Wednesday, though the remains have not been identified conclusively.
"We believe there is strong evidence to show that Russell Jones played a critical role in Dena Raley's death," Gundlach said.
Gundlach said investigators believe Russell and Raley-McCluskey were acquainted but they did not know the exact nature of their relationship.
Gundlach declined to answer several questions from reporters for details on how the case was solved. He referred further questions to the district attorney, Birgit Fladager, who said her office believes there is enough evidence to file charges. She said she expected Russell will be arraigned Monday. She declined to say anything more.
Donna Raley, the victim's stepmother, thanked investigators for solving the case.
"It's been a long 8 years, and everybody is really happy that we have finally found Dena," she said. "There were times that were frustrating for all of us ... but they've done a really good job."
She also thanked the media for keeping the case in the public eye. Beyond her statement, she said, family members will not comment publicly for some time.
Dena Raley-McCluskey's last days
Dena Raley-McCluskey was last seen Oct. 10, 1999. Wednesday, Modesto Police found a body near Groveland that they believe is hers. They've arrested Russell Jones and booked him on murder charges.
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Body found near Groveland
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