Cold Case Solved After 40 Years: Rape, Murder Suspect Arrested

Carlton R. Franklin has been arrested and charged with the murder of Lena Triano, a cold case that had stumped detectives for nearly 40 years. Franklin was 15 at the time of the rape and murder of Triano, which kept police from suspecting his involvement until recently.

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, 57-year-old Lena Triano was a quiet woman, a secretary who lived alone in Westfield, New Jersey. She was found raped, strangled and murdered in her apartment, and authorities investigated but found no evidence to advance its investigation.

"There were no suspects, no clues, nothing left behind-it was a very difficult case," Ray Lynch, a retired detective told the Star Ledger. "It's frustrating, especially when you see the condition of this woman and what was done to her. It didn't seem to make sense why someone would hurt this woman."

The details of Triano's death shook up the quiet community in which she lived. Forensic evidence showed that Triano had been hog-tied, raped, strangled, beaten, and stabbed repeatedly. At the time, though, examining forensic evidence was not as high-tech as it is now, and proved futile.

Authorities never gave up on the case, and they never gave up looking at a 15-year-old boy who was Triano's neighbor. New tests were run on existing evidence, and that evidence led authorities to Carlton R. Franklin.

"We determined this individual who lived in the neighborhood had relations with this woman. He raped her. We have evidence that the individual will claim he did not know her," prosecutor Theodore Ramanow said during a press conference.

When authorities took Franklin into custody on Monday, he "didn't seem surprised," said Sgt. Harvey Barnwell. However, Franklin's family has been left shocked by the allegations and arrest.

"Why would he kill her? Why would you take a life when you can't give a life? Jesus, have mercy," Franklin's mother Rosetta told the Star Ledger in a phone interview. "How could he have lived with this all of these year?"

"It's absolutely and positively gratifying to hear someone is being brought to justice," Franklin said. "Technology changes things. You can't hide behind time anymore."