LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — A man arrested in Arizona in a 23-year-old homicide was a furniture sales competitor of the slain man in Ohio, authorities said Friday.
Sam Perone, who was arrested Thursday, formerly operated a furniture store called Just Living Rooms in Lebanon, about midway between Cincinnati and Dayton, Warren County authorities said. Authorities have said 41-year-old Richard Woods, a Columbus-area furniture salesman, had visited the store before he disappeared on Oct. 8, 1992.
"His last stop that day was at Sam Perone's furniture store," Warren County Sheriff's Lt. John Faine said. "That stop was the last time Richard was ever seen alive."
Woods was shot in the back of the head and his body was found about a month later in a wooded area near Lebanon.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said investigators believe Woods was shot in the back of Perone's store, but he declined to discuss motive and said it's a challenging case.
"Any time you try to prosecute a case that's 23 years old, it's a difficult process," he said.
Authorities are seeking Perone's removal from Phoenix, where he was arrested. A message was left Friday for a Lebanon attorney who has represented Perone in the past. Details of his murder indictment weren't released by Warren County officials.
Perone, 67, previously denied involvement in Woods' slaying. He closed the store years ago, and it's not clear when he moved to Phoenix.
Authorities suggested they used newer forensic techniques to develop evidence.
"There's been a tremendous advance in the use of DNA technology and other types of technology over the past 10 to 15 years," Fornshell said. He added that publicity about continued efforts to solve the cold case led new witnesses to come forward.
Investigators have described Woods as a popular, successful salesman. They said his wife hired a private investigator after he didn't call home the evening of Oct. 8 as expected. Warren County authorities say she has remarried since, but they declined to provide details.
A sheriff's official called it a coincidence that Perone's arrest was announced on the 23rd anniversary of Woods' disappearance.