Carl Rodgers
Carl Rodgers, 62 Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General

A man in Pennsylvania has been charged with the murder of his wife after a review of the 1983 cold case led to a re-examination of her death in Perry County, the state's attorney general said.

"For more than three decades, the family and friends of Debra Jane Rodgers have sought justice, and wondered if this day would ever come," attorney general Josh Shapiro said.

"Thanks to a strong collaboration between the Pennsylvania State Police and our office, and the effective use of a statewide investigating grand jury, Carl Rodgers stands charged with murder."

The attorney general's office said at the time of her death in 1983, Debra Rodgers was just 23 and living with Carl Rodgers and their five-year-old daughter. Debra Rodgers disappeared on 22 April 1983.

Authorities said that Carl Rodgers' statements at the time of the disappearance were "inconsistent", first saying that his wife was suicidal, then saying they had argued and he had grabbed her arm.

After Rodgers told the family Debra was missing, the attorney general's office said: "Rodgers led Debra's family members into the state forest to search for her. He led family members to a remote, heavily wooded area in the forest, where they found Debra's car."

As the search was called off that night, Rodgers allegedly insisted on moving the car. The next day Debra's body was found by her mother in a wooded area authorities say Carl suggested. Debra Rodgers was found with her skirt pulled up her torso "as if she was dragged to the location" and her wrists had been slashed as if she had committed suicide.

The attorney general's office said that a coroner's report had said the injuries to her wrists were "extremely unlikely" to be self-inflicted and that Debra "had died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso". A knife was also found at the scene near a sheath "bearing the name 'Carl'".

After a reopening of the case, a grand jury recommended a murder charge for Rodgers and the 62-year-old was then arrested on Monday 13 November.

"Since 1983, members of the Pennsylvania State Police have diligently investigated the untimely death of Debra Rodgers," said Lieutenant Mark A Magyar, Criminal Investigation Section Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop H.

"I commend the investigative dedication to bring resolution to the family of Debra Rodgers. The collaboration with the office of the attorney general has been paramount in bringing forth the arrest and upcoming prosecution of Carl Rodgers."