Oklahoma County prosecutors, armed with new DNA evidence, charged a convicted rapist Tuesday with the 1975 slaying of a woman who was last seen at Crossroads Mall.
Thomas Levering, 62, was charged Tuesday with kidnapping, raping and strangling Jerry Ann Watson, 38, whose decomposing body was found Dec. 30, 1975, in a wooded area in far northwest Oklahoma County.
Watson had been strangled with a piece of nylon hosiery, police reported.
Shortly after her disappearance was reported, officers found Watson's unlocked car parked at Penn Square Mall.
A couple told police they last saw her Dec. 8 at Crossroads Mall.
A girl discovered her purse Dec. 14 inside a trash bin in the 4800 block of Classen Boulevard.
Levering is serving six life sentences for sexually assaulting a woman inside his apartment, court records show.
Watson's sister contacted Oklahoma City police detectives in March and asked if the case could be reopened, according to a probable cause affidavit.
A fingerprint taken from the victim's car in 1975 was identified as belonging to Levering, and his DNA cannot be eliminated from the “slides taken at the time of her autopsy,” according to the affidavit.
First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said DNA evidence coupled with new scientific technology used to test the evidence made the 37-year-old case “viable.”
“It is really gratifying to be able to file one of these cold case homicides where it seems like everybody except the family has forgotten about it,” Rowland said.
Levering was convicted in March of attacking, kidnapping and raping an Oklahoma City woman on Jan. 31, 2011, inside his apartment in the 1100 block of NW 34.
He was sentenced to six consecutive life terms in prison.
Levering pleaded guilty in 1979 to sexually assaulting two women in Oklahoma County, records show.
He served 29 years of a 60-year sentence and was paroled in 2008.
One of the victims was abducted from her vehicle at Crossroads Mall, driven to the country and raped.
She was returned to the mall, investigators reported.
In the second rape, the victim was choked to the point of unconsciousness and woke up with her hands tied behind her back with pantyhose. She also was taken out to the country and raped, according to the affidavit.
“He needs to stand trial and be brought to justice for the murder of Jerry Ann Watson,” Rowland said.