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DNA Evidence Links Man to a 1981 Rape-Murder [UPDATED]

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DNA evidence has allegedly provided the link between a man who celebrated his 51st birthday this week and a three-decades-old crime. Joseph Allen Thornton is accused of the rape and murder of Blanca Stella Negrete, 21, who was killed June 27, 1981.

The victim, who worked at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, was found strangled to death in the 7600 block of Washington Avenue in Whittier, according to City News Service.

The case was reopened in 2010, when sexual assault evidence collected in 1981 was submitted for testing to the to the Los Angeles County Crime Lab. Thornton had lived for several years in Topeka, Kansas, but was arrested Wednesday in the California city of Auburn.

Thornton is charged with capital murder, including a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a rape. Prosecutors have not yet determined if Thornton will face the death penalty.

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Arraignment is scheduled for today in Whittier Superior Court.

UPDATE 3:35 PM: Arraignment has been postponed to May 10.