SAC CITY - A cold case heated up on Tuesday with the arrest of a suspect in an almost decade-old murder.
Tracey Richter-Roberts, 45, of Omaha, Neb., has been charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony, in connection with the death of 20-year-old Dustin Wehde in Early.
On Dec. 13, 2001, officers responded to a 911 call at 105 W. South Ave. in Early. It was the home of the suspect, then known as Tracey Roberts, and her husband Michael. When officers arrived, they found Wehde in the upstairs master bedroom, dead of multiple gunshot wounds.
DCI Special Agent Terry Klooster, left, Ken McClure, Sac County sheriff, middle, and Ben Smith, Sac County attorney, right, discuss the arrest of murder suspect Tracey Richter-Roberts at a press conference in Sac City Wednesday.
Richter-Roberts said Wehde and another individual attacked her in her home. She said that she was able to retrieve a handgun, and shoot Wehde. Richter-Roberts said the second person fled before law enforcement arrived.
Police said that over the course of the past decade, information developed leading them to charge Richter-Roberts with first-degree murder.
At a press conference in the Sac County Law Enforcement Center Wednesday, officials discussed the investigation and what the future holds.
"The re-examination of this case took a lot of time and manpower," Terry Klooster, special agent in charge for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said. "The resources dedicated by the Sac County attorney, the Sac County sheriff's office, and the (Division of Criminal Investigation) were substantial. A lot of time and effort went into this case."
Officials couldn't go into much detail about what led them to file the murder charge. However, according to the complaint against Richter-Roberts, there was one piece of evidence found in Wehde's car that she had recently discussed with the FBI. The complaint also said a witness recently came forward and provided information about a conversation with Richter-Roberts in early 2002.
"These cases are very delicate, and they require a lot of thought and a lot of teamwork," Klooster said. "Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while for stuff to come together."
Using the information that had been developed, police arrested Richter-Roberts in a traffic stop in Omaha. According to Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure, she had lived in that town for the past few years.
"If she does not waive extradition, it could be quite a lengthy process before she does come back here," McClure said, adding it may be up to 90 days before she's sent back to Iowa if she chooses to waive.
Sac County Attorney Ben Smith said although there's been an arrest, it doesn't mean everything is over.
"We can't stress enough that this isn't a done deal," he said. "The burden's on the state to prove this. She's absolutely innocent until proven guilty. This is just the beginning. Due process will take its course."
McClure also said this will be a very difficult time for the Wehde family.
"Although we hope this brings them closure ... they have a long road ahead of them yet," he said. "This is probably going to open some old wounds and maybe some bad memories."
Richter-Roberts remains in custody in the Douglas County, Neb., Jail.
Contact Peter Kaspari at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org