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Teacher arrested for woman's 2005 murder claims fingerprints left on purse because he ‘used to sell bags and clothes’

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Jan. 31 2022, Published 1:34 p.m. ET

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Authorities in California used fingerprint and DNA technology to identify and apprehend a teacher suspected of murdering a woman 16 years ago, officials said.

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Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Charles Wright, 56, of Hawthorne, California, on Jan. 27 in connection to the slaying of 21-year-old Pertina Epps, KCBS-TV reported.

Epps was found strangled to death in a Gardena carport on the afternoon of April 26, 2005.

“At the time of the murder, an extensive investigation was conducted by LASD homicide detectives and all leads were exhausted,” Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said.

According to Parra, the Sheriff’s Homicide Unsolved Unit reviewed the cold case last year, and investigators submitted forensic crime scene evidence from the cold case for reexamination using current technology.

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DNA and fingerprint evidence was determined to belong to the suspect, Charles Wright,” Parra said.

Investigators do not believe the suspect and victim knew each other, authorities noted.

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Wright’s bail was set at $1 million, and he posted bond the same day he was arrested. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 28.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Wright, who taught in the Inglewood Unified School District, denied he killed Epps and explained why his fingerprints were allegedly found on a purse.

“I didn’t do this,” Wright said. “The thing is, everybody that knows me knows I used to sell bags and clothes out of my car … That’s the only possible way it could happen.”

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