CHARLESTON, S.C. – The mother of a New York State sailor who was shot execution style 17 years ago and left in a ditch is relieved two people have finally been arrested in her son’s death.
“It’s great news. They finally got someone after all this time,” Rosaline Horton, 70, of Sherburne in upstate New York told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.
The body of her 22-year-old son, James Allen Horton, was found hands tied behind his back with a gunshot wound to the chest in a ditch near Summerville in Berkeley County in 1992. He had also been struck in the head with a blunt object.
Horton was stationed at the old Charleston Naval Base at the time. The base closed in the mid-1990s.
Several news outlets reported a Montana man, Andrew Welty of Missoula, a computer systems administrator, was arrested last week after confessing to his role in the death.
Then police in Suffolk County on New York’s Long Island on Tuesday announced they had arrested a second suspect, Thomas Solheim of Montauk, N.Y.
Prosecutors say Solheim’s arraignment had to be postponed Wednesday when the 53-year-old man suffered seizures and was hospitalized. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
Both men are being charged in Berkeley County with murder, although warrants had not been served as of late Wednesday, said sheriff’s department spokesman Dan Moon.
He said it could be several months before either man is returned to South Carolina. Moon would not comment on a possible motive in the case.
Police in Montana referred calls to Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent Stan Garland in Charleston who did not immediately return telephone messages from AP.
Rosaline Horton, a retired school custodian, said her son was a chief aboard a minesweeper and had served two tours in the first Gulf War.
“He just wanted to be in the service, to serve his country,” she said.
In the days after her son went missing, Navy personnel contacted her asking if he went AWOL. “He would never do that,” she said.
Her son’s body was found about two weeks after his disappearance. The sailor received a military funeral in his hometown.
Rosaline Horton said she understood four people are suspected in the killing, although only two have been arrested.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported that both the NCIS and Berkeley County authorities said last year that they hoped new DNA technology would help crack the cold case.
Agents held a news conference at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station last November to solicit help from the public in solving the case.
Agents said at the time robbery was not a motive and that the victim knew his attackers.
Associated Press Correspondent Frank Eltman in Garden City, N.Y., contributed to this report.
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