Texas authorities solve cold case, arrest two suspects now about same age as victim when he died in 1986

cold case
Source: Comal County Sheriff’s Office

Jun. 8 2021, Published 10:46 a.m. ET

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Two men on opposite sides of the country are under arrest in connection with a 1986 cold case murder in Texas.

The Comal County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of Tracey Keith Loy, 56, of St. George, Utah, and Mark Gatten, 57, of Quaker City, Ohio, for the death of Charles Robert Hardin, who was 56 years old when he was killed almost 35 years ago.

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The suspects, who were both in their early 20s at the time of the victim’s death, have each been charged with one count of murder.

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On August 26, 1986, investigators and Comal County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a camping site at Jacob’s Creek Park near Canyon Lake, Texas, where they discovered Hardin’s body. An autopsy showed his manner of death was homicide.

In March — almost 35 years later — Texas Rangers Joshua Ray got involved in the cold case.

“We are very, very fortunate to have him working out of our office,” Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds said, according to The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. “He asked us for some of our unsolved murders and through the cooperation with our office and the Texas Rangers, he started looking into them.”

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The Texas Rangers got a break in the case after he resubmitted evidence collected at the crime scene for further forensic testing.

“Through investigation, Loy and Gatten were eventually identified as persons of interest,” the Comal County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ray interviewed Loy in Utah, and on May 31 the murder suspect was extradited to Texas, where he is being held on an $80,000 bond in the Comal County Jail.

Five days earlier, on May 26, the Texas Ranger obtained an arrest warrant for the second suspect, Gatten, who is in Ohio and expected to be extradited to Texas.

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