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Indiana man arrested 33 years after woman’s body found in Georgia woods

Larry Padgett picture

Authorities have made an arrest in the 1989 slaying of a woman after DNA evidence linked the Georgia victim to a man in Indiana.

Deer hunters found the body of Mary Louicile Willfong, 23, in a wooded area off of Interstate 75 on Nov. 21 of that year, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia. An autopsy found that she was sexually assaulted and strangled, but DNA samples did not match any potential suspects during the investigation.

In March 2019, the sheriff’s office reopened the case and resubmitted evidence to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab due to new technology. Marc Mansfield, the new investigator on the case, also took samples to DNA Labs International in Florida for a genealogy trace.

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Mansfield, in partnership with the FBI, identified a suspect as Larry Padgett, 59, of Loogootee, Indiana. The FBI and police in nearby Washington, Indiana, collected new DNA samples from Padgett, which matched the original DNA taken from Willfong in 1989.

Padgett was arrested March 1.

Records show he was moved from the Daviess County Jail in Indiana to Monroe County, Georgia, where he is in custody.

Court records were not immediately available for Padgett in Georgia, and there was no attorney listed for him in the Indiana case.

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