John R. Oldson always was a primary suspect.
Authorities interrogated Oldson when Catherine Beard disappeared 22 years ago after leaving a small-town bar in central Nebraska with him.
They questioned him again after her body was found three years later in a shallow grave along a little-used road near Ord, Neb.
But authorities couldn’t make the case against him. Now they have.
Oldson, 45, who now lives in Clay County, was charged with first-degree murder in Beard’s 1989 slaying.
He is being held in the Clay County jail but waived extradition and is expected to return to Nebraska soon. Oldson is scheduled to appear in Valley County court on Feb. 6. Bond was set at $1 million.
An autopsy revealed that Beard was beaten and stabbed.
On Wednesday, Valley County Sheriff Casey Hurlburt declined to provide details on what evidence finally allowed them to arrest and charge Oldson.
Hurlburt said authorities continued to investigate the slaying over the past two decades and new witnesses emerged in August.
They also re-interviewed several witnesses from the initial investigation, he said.
“This has never been closed or never been laid to rest,” Hurlburt said.
Authorities believe that Oldson attacked Beard when she refused his sexual advances.
Beard was a frequent customer at the Some Place Else Tavern in Ord, Neb., where she worked. Witnesses said they saw Beard leave with Oldson through the back door the evening of March 31, 1989.
Oldson was later developed as a suspect in the disappearance.
According to court records, police interviewed Oldson in June 1989, when he told investigators that he made sexual advances on Beard after she followed him outside of the bar. However, Beard refused.
Oldson said he became upset and tried to pull Beard into his pickup but she broke free and fell to the ground. She then got into another vehicle and was driven away.
He told investigators that his “hormones got the better of him,” according to the affidavit.
Authorities said Oldson was convicted in 1989 of assaulting a 51-year-old woman in Burwell, Neb., and sentenced to nine months in jail.
He was convicted in 1992 on two assault charges against women. In 2003, he was convicted of felony child abuse for sticking needles into the stomachs of his two stepdaughters. He was released two years later.
Investigators think that sometime in 2005, he moved in with his mother in Independence. He later married and moved with his wife to Randolph in 2010.
Oldson was arrested without incident Tuesday outside his home.