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DNA Leads to Suspect in 1988 N.Va. Killings

Raver and Fulton were last seen at a Mister Day's restaurant near Dupont Circle on Dec. 4, 1988. Their bodies were found Dec. 6. Fulton's parents did not respond to a phone message yesterday.

Matt Martin, an Arlington police spokesman, said, "If it turns out this is the guy who did it and we can prove it, it's going to be an amazing story just because it's been so long." Martin said Jefferson's case, featured in local and national media over the years, is "probably our most high-profile cold case in the last 15 years."

But now comes the question of how, and whether, to prosecute Prieto in Virginia. He was sentenced to death in California 14 years ago, but his appeals there are continuing, Horan said.

Horan has begun discussions with California officials over "the mechanics of getting him back." He said Prieto's state-level appeals are not exhausted, and then he would have federal appeals.

Meanwhile, Horan said, "Virginia runs one of these [capital cases] through inside of six years. I'm trying to pursue with California authorities how soon they think he could be executed in California."

Virginia would then have to persuade California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to transfer Prieto to Virginia for another trial. "We're going to see if there's any practical way of getting him back here and effectively prosecuting him," Horan said.

Although Prieto has been in jail since his arrest in October 1990, it was not clear yesterday when his DNA was collected and entered into California's DNA database or the national DNA database known as CODIS, for Combined DNA Information System.

Michael Chamberlain, a deputy attorney general in California, said voters approved a measure last year that expanded the number of convicted felons in the state database.

This year, Chamberlain said, state officials "went through and collected DNA from every inmate in the California penal system," entering 70,000 samples in recent months.

Chamberlain said Prieto's DNA may have been collected in that sweep, but he could not confirm that yesterday.

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