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Trash collector arrested in Cape Cod killing

Fashion writer's family expresses thanks


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(CNN) -- Investigators do not believe 46-year-old Christa Worthington, a former fashion writer, and her killer had a personal relationship, the Cape and Islands district attorney said Friday.

The evidence at the crime scene in Worthington's home on Lower Cape Cod suggested only that the killer "was familiar with her comings and goings," District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said.

O'Keefe's comments came at a news conference after the arrest of Christopher McCowen, a 33-year-old garbage collector.

McCowen, whose company picked up trash at Worthington's home, has a "significant body of evidence" against him, and his arrest by Massachusetts state police detectives last night came only after investigators had confirmed a match between his DNA and that found at the crime scene, O'Keefe said.

Semen recovered at the crime scene was a main clue in the case, authorities have said.

McCowen has pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder, aggravated rape and armed assault. He was ordered held without bail.

Worthington was found stabbed to death January 6, 2002, in her home in Truro, with her 2-year-old daughter clinging to her body. The child was unharmed.

Worthington, a single mother, had moved to the small town after working in Manhattan as a fashion writer for publications such as Women's Wear Daily and Elle magazine.

"We are profoundly relieved and thankful that an arrest has been made for the murder of Christa," her family said in a written statement Friday.

Investigators first questioned McCowen, along with many other people, in 2002, and though McCowen had said then that he would be willing to provide DNA if asked, he did not provide a sample until March 2004, O'Keefe said.

It wasn't until last month that the investigation focused on McCowen. After authorities discussed tests that showed a match between McCowen and the crime scene, his sample underwent further testing this week to confirm that match.

In their search for the killer, police had collected DNA samples from male residents of Truro, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to openly condemn what it called "a serious intrusion on personal privacy."

O'Keefe argued that the police were "absolutely correct and appropriate" in their request, saying, "The idea of asking people to give a sample of either blood or DNA," or a fingerprint or hair follicle, "is as well-settled in the law as anything is in the law."

Worthington's killing inspired the book "Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod," by fellow Truro resident Maria Flook.

She told CNN that Worthington may have been dead for longer than 24 hours when she was found, and that there were signs her child had tried to care for her.

Worthington's killing was the the town's first in 30 years, Flook said.


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