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Man charged in 1987 murder of Ohio teenager


CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities have announced an arrest in the murder of a teenager whose body was found near an outdoor music venue in Ohio more than three decades ago.

Cuyahoga Falls police said 67-year-old James E. Zastawnik of Cleveland was taken into custody Wednesday and charged with 1st-degree felony murder.

Police were called to an area near Blossom Music Center five days before Christmas in 1987 after the nude body of 17-year-old Barbara Blatnik was found. She had last been seen when a friend dropped her off at about midnight in Garfield Heights the night before. Authorities said the teenager had been raped and strangled.

Police said the charges were "based on new evidence that was provided through advancements in DNA technology." The police news release quoted Mayor Don Walters as expressing thanks to The Porchlight Project for funding they provided "to help get the needed DNA testing that was done to close this case."

"I'm walking around in circles, I don't know what to think or what to say," the victim's sister, Donna Zanath, told WKYC-TV, adding that her family had never known the defendant. "I'm happy mostly for my father who's had to live with this. It's just so unbelievable."

The station reported that Zastawnik worked at Ferrotherm Corporation in Garfield Heights for 34 years and has no prior criminal record in either Cuyahoga or Summit counties. It's unclear whether the Zastawnik has an attorney; a message was left at a number listed in his name.


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