An Indiana man was taken into custody last week in connection with a gruesome cold case murder in Georgia that went unsolved for more than three decades, authorities said.
The man, identified as Larry Padgett, 59, of Loguty, Indiana, was arrested March 1 in connection with the 1989 slaying of 23-year-old Mary Louisille Wilfong, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release. Padgett was extradited back to Georgia, where the killings took place and where, according to booking records, he is now in custody on murder charges.
Wilfong’s body was found by deer hunters near an interstate highway in Georgia on November 21, 1989, according to the Monroe County Sheriff. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Wilfong had been sexually assaulted and the cause of death was strangulation.
Daviess County Sheriff
At the time, authorities said investigators received tips that suggested Wilfong had previously been seen riding a tractor trailer with a man at a farmer’s market in Forest Park, Georgia.
“Several suspects were located, interviewed and DNA obtained from the suspects during the course of the investigation,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “The DNA samples taken from the suspects did not match the DNA taken from the victims. The case was ultimately closed and unsolved.”
In March 2019, the Georgia Sheriff’s Office reopened Wilfong’s case and assigned it to an investigator, Mark Mansfield. Investigators resubmitted the original evidence to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab, which reprocessed it using new technology. Mansfield then transferred the evidence to a forensic lab in Miami, where a genealogical trace was completed on DNA taken from Wilfong, authorities said.
In coordination with special agents from the Atlanta branch of the FBI, Mansfield identified Padgett as a suspect in Wilfong’s murder. The FBI and police in Washington, Indiana collected additional DNA from the suspect, which was evaluated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab and determined to match the original DNA sample taken from Wilfong’s body in 1989.
While in Indiana, authorities say investigators were able to collect more evidence linking Padgett to Wilfong’s murder. Padgett was transferred to Monroe County two days after his initial arrest, and records show he remains in custody there without a set bond amount.