'Almost got away with murder': How a job application led to an arrest in woman's 1998 cold case killing

Sondra Better, 68, was stabbed and bludgeoned to death at work in 1998.

March 28, 2019, 9:55 AM

After a 68-year-old woman was brutally killed at work, the murder went unsolved for two decades -- until a Florida man submitted fingerprints for a job, linking him to the crime scene, police said.

The case began in 1998 when Sondra Better was stabbed and bludgeoned to death while working alone at a Delray Beach, Florida, consignment shop, the Delray Beach Police Department said in a statement released Wednesday.

PHOTO:  An undated photo of murder victim Sondra Better, pictured here with her husband in a photo released by Delray Beach Police.
An undated photo of murder victim Sondra Better, pictured here with her husband in a photo released by Delray Beach Police.
Delray Beach Police Department

The unknown killer left his fingerprints on a heavy, decorative ball, police said, and left drops of his blood leading from Better's body to the cash register and out the front door to the sidewalk.

A witness who was shopping at the store just before the crime and believed she talked with the suspect described him as a thin white man in his late 20s or early 30s, said police.

During the decades-long investigation, police said they interviewed witnesses and suspects and obtained DNA from 36 men -- with no match.

The killer's blood and fingerprints were entered into national databases, police said, but no match arrived until December 2018, when 51-year-old Todd Barket "submitted his fingerprints for a background check by a potential employer," police said in the Wednesday statement.

PHOTO: Todd Barket, 51, of Brandon, Florida, was arrested for first-degree murder, March 27, 2019.
Todd Barket, 51, of Brandon, Florida, was arrested for first-degree murder, March 27, 2019.
Delray Beach Police Department

Barket's DNA also matches the DNA from the crime scene, police said, and he matches the witness description. He was 29 at the time of the murder.

Barket, of Brandon, Florida, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for first-degree murder.

"Todd Barket almost got away with murder," the Delray Beach Police tweeted Thursday, "but the dogged effort by DBPD [Delray Beach Police Department] detectives and crime scene investigators past and present caught up with him 20 years after leaving his fingerprints and blood at a brutal scene. May Sondra Better rest in peace."

PHOTO: Todd Barket, 51, of Brandon, Florida, was arrested for first-degree murder, March 27, 2019.
Todd Barket, 51, of Brandon, Florida, was arrested for first-degree murder, March 27, 2019.
Delray Beach Police Department

Barket was being held in the Hillsborough County Jail on no bond and will be extradited to Palm Beach County, police said Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if Barket had an attorney.

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