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Boynton Beach man arrested for 1985 murder, kidnapping, sexual assault

PBSO: DNA evidence links Richard Lange, 61, to cold case killing
Richard Lange, 61, makes his first appearance before a Palm Beach County judge on April 23, 2021.jpg
Mildred Matheny, 78, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered in 1985, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says.jpg
Posted at 10:44 AM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 18:55:53-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County detectives said Friday they've solved a 35-year-old cold case kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder.

The sheriff's office said that on April 27, 1985, Mildred Matheny, 78, wandered away from her home and was reported missing to the Lake Worth Police Department.

"In the past, Matheny had been found wandering about the neighborhood appearing to be lost," a sheriff's office report stated.

Around 10 p.m. that night, a passerby discovered Matheny lying naked on Old Indiantown Road in Jupiter, roughly 30 miles from her home. She was bleeding from blunt force injuries to her head and face, and her bloodstained dentures were found nearby.

Matheny was rushed to Martin Memorial Hospital in Stuart where days later, on May 8, 1985, she died from her injuries. Matheny's death was ruled a homicide.

RELATED: PBSO: DNA helped crack 36-year-old cold case

A medical examiner said an autopsy revealed signs that Matheny had been sexually assaulted.

The sheriff's office said that, at the time of her killing, Matheny was a widow and living with her sister after retiring in Florida.

Three decades later, PBSO detectives from the Cold Case Homicide Unit conducted a case review and reexamined DNA evidence.

In March, a male DNA profile extracted from Matheny turned up a match for Richard Lange, 61, an offender in the Florida State CODIS DNA Database, according to the sheriff's office.

Lange, a Boynton Beach resident who was 25 at the time of the murder, denied knowing Matheny or having anything to do with her killing, detectives said.

However, a second DNA sample taken from Lange on Thursday matched the DNA profile found on the victim.

Lange was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping/false imprisonment, and sexual assault with a weapon.

In court on Friday, a judge denied Lange bond and ordered him to have no contact with family members of the victim or witnesses in the case.