LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A big development in the 2008 stabbing death of a Lake Charles woman.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and FBI announced on Wednesday the arrest of Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara. He was extradited from Mexico and was booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center Tuesday night.
Garcia Guevara, 26, was wanted in connection with the murder and sexual assault of 26-year-old Wanda Barton, who was killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 2008 inside her mobile home off Country Club Road. The murder reportedly happened in front of Barton's 4-year-old stepson. Barton was stabbed to death.
Garcia Guevara has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated burglary and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
"This has been six long years for Mrs. Barton's family, and I am so pleased Guevara will now face prosecution for the senseless murder of their loved one, Wanda Barton," said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. "I would also like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the FBI for their assistance in getting Guevara back to Calcasieu Parish, as well as placing him on the FBI's 'Ten Most Wanted Fugitives' list. This extradition would not have been possible without them."
Authorities said Guevara was an illegal alien working construction in the Lake Charles area and was a neighbor of Barton's.
"With the large influx of migrant workers coming to the United States, particularly Calcasieu Parish in the immediate future, it is imperative that all law enforcement agencies work together to ensure the continued safety of our citizens," said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.
"Workers who come to our state need to understand that they must obey all of our laws. Anyone harming our citizens will be subjected to our criminal justice system," said DeRosier. "The world is a much smaller place than it was 30 years ago. Criminals can run, hide and attempt to avoid discovery, but eventually, they will be found and brought back to face justice. Hopefully, we can help bring closure to the Barton family for this tremendous loss they have suffered."
Guevara is thought to have fled the area to Dallas after the murder. Authorities have been working to track him down after DNA evidence tied him to the crime. He was placed on the FBI's 10 "Most Wanted" fugitive last last July.
"This fugitive investigation and extradition could not have been possible without the tremendous cooperation and collaboration of federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners," stated Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI New Orleans.
Barton's family said it's been a hard six years, but finally feel they are closer to justice.
"I think she'd be happy and very proud that we never gave up. We can sleep a little better at night knowing he can't do this to anyone else," said Barbara Young & B.J. Frieu, Barton's sisters.
Barton's husband said he always knew Guevara would be captured.
"I had full faith in our sheriff's office and local FBI agents. I had full faith this was going to happen. It just takes time and this is the first step to justice," said Kevin Barton.