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Man Arrested in Mexico Over 1979 Slaying

August 29, 2003

LUFKIN, Texas (AP) _ A man wanted in the 1979 stabbing death of a sheriff’s deputy in Texas was arrested Thursday in Mexico, authorities said.

Alvaro Rodarte, about 46, was taken into custody without incident outside the city of Zacatecas, the FBI said.

Police believe Rodarte fatally stabbed Angelina County Deputy Don Willmon, 32, after he was stopped for questioning about a burglary. Authorities believe he then fled and has been living in Mexico for the past 24 years.

Rodarte will be prosecuted in Mexico, the FBI said. An agency spokeswoman had no further details Thursday on what led authorities to him.

Lufkin Police Chief Larry Brazil said his department has been working with the FBI, the Texas Attorney General’s office and Mexican authorities for years to capture Rodarte.

``It’s been a long time coming,″ Brazil told The Lufkin Daily News for its Friday editions. ``And I hope the family can now have some closure.″

Willmon’s brother Gary, publisher of the Free Press newspaper in Diboll, hailed the arrest.

``I really didn’t think I’d ever be seeing this day,″ Gary Willmon said. ``I figured he would stay in Mexico and escape everything.″

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