SOUTH HAVEN — Homicide charges have been filed against another man in the 1986 death of Wilda Wilkinson in Bangor.
Van Buren County court records show Robert James Waite, 49, is facing one felony count of homicide-open murder in South Haven District Court.
He has not been arraigned and no court dates have been scheduled in the case, as he is awaiting extradition to Michigan from Florida.
Det. Lt. Shane Criger of the Michigan State Police said he couldn’t confirm the name because according to MSP policy he can’t until suspects are arraigned. However, he did confirm that someone has been arrested in the case and it was in part because of DNA evidence.
Charges against a California man arrested for murder and brought to Michigan earlier this year were dismissed in May because of the new DNA information.
According to the Associated Press, Michigan State Police told WOOD-TV out of Grand Rapids that they matched partial DNA found on Wilkinson’s clothes to Waite. Detectives say Waite confessed to killing Wilkinson when they interviewed him in April. Authorities say Waite knew specific details about the slaying, AP reported.
State police detectives re-opened the cold case in 2010 and then stepped up efforts last year to investigate the unsolved murder.
It was Wilkinson’s daughter who found her strangled mother in 1986. A nurse’s aide at South Haven Community Hospital at the time, Wilkinson, 59, was divorced and lived alone in Bangor. When she failed to report to work, hospital officials called her daughter to check on her mom.
Waite has been in a Florida prison since 2008 on an unrelated kidnapping and sexual battery conviction, according to Florida Department of Corrections online records. He is set to be released on those charges in 2034.
Criger said he does not know how long it will take for an arraignment to take place so that they can release more information.
Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman