By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A man has been arrested in the 1982 strangling of an Arizona mother of three young children, based partly on DNA evidence recovered from under the victim's fingernails, police said on Tuesday.
Marion "Homer" Parmar, 55, is awaiting extradition to Arizona from Oklahoma on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Ernestine Brewer at her home in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix.
Parmar, who knew the victim and her estranged husband, was taken into custody without incident on Aug. 5 by police detectives and federal law enforcement officials in McAlester, Oklahoma, on an Arizona arrest warrant.
Authorities said that Parmar, who had been on the run after absconding from parole on unrelated charges in 2012, has maintained his innocence.
Mesa Police Chief John Meza said a DNA swab from the victim, paired with additional work by detectives in contacting witnesses again and gathering information, led to the cold case being solved.
"No homicide is too old for us to use additional scientific measures and good old detective work ... and bring this suspect to justice," Meza said.
Brewer, 34, had been in the midst of a divorce and was fighting for custody of her three children, all under the age of 10, at the time of her murder.
Her husband was ruled out as a suspect. But two friends of the family, Parmar and his brother Sonny, were seen leaving her apartment the night before her body was found partially clothed.
It was not until 2006 that the Mesa crime lab could identify partial DNA evidence from the victim, which was used to rule out all suspects except Homer Parmar, police said.
The case went cold again, Meza said, until it was reviewed in 2013 by a homicide detective who conducted more interviews and "started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together."
The arrest warrant for Parmar was issued in September 2014.
The motive for the murder remains unclear, said Mesa Police Detective Esteban Flores.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)