UPDATE: Roman Urista pleaded guilty to murder, rape and criminal deviate conduct. He was sentenced to 65 years in Community Corrections on the murder charge, 50 years on the rape charge and 50 years on the criminal deviate conduct charge. The sentences will be served concurrently.
MARION, Ind. — After more than a decade, a suspected serial rapist has been arrested in the brutal murder and rape of an elderly Marion woman.
Roman Cruz Urista Jr. was arrested last week in Hamilton County, Ohio. Urista Jr. is accused of raping and strangling 81-year-old Betty Payne to death.
Payne was found in her home on South Gallatin Street in Marion on May 12, 2003. Her son, David Payne, discovered his mother’s body.
“There were times when I’d kinda given up on the process. I was fearful it would never happen,” David said.
David Payne is a local Marion lawyer. He fought many legal battles since his mothers death to gain evidence in the case. He even wrote a book about her murder.
DNA evidence linked the suspect to Payne’s death as well as three other sexual assault cases.
In October 2003, The Indiana State Police lab reported a match was found in their DNA database to a 2001 sexual assault case in Montgomery County, Ohio. Then, in December 2015, the lab contacted Marion police for another DNA match to another sexual assault case. This one, in Hamilton, Ohio.
Urista Jr. became a face to the DNA when in October 2016, Marion police received word of another match by the crime lab. The case was a sexual assault investigation in Collier County, Florida. This case happened in 2000.
A search warrant for Urista’s DNA was served after the suspect was located in Ohio. It was found to be a match to Payne’s murder and rape case.
“Hopefully we’ve got the right guy. Hopefully we’ll get the decision that’s just and hopefully we can put an end to this nightmare,” David said.
Urista’s relationship to the Marion area isn’t known. He’s currently in the Hamilton County, Ohio jail awaiting possible extradition.