Authorities say they have arrested a woman in connection with an August 1990 slaying because the case nagged an investigator who is now sheriff.
Clay County Sheriff Paul Vescovo said that a palm print left when 44-year-old Annette Davis used a bathroom sink to clean up led to the arrest in the 23-year-old case.
He said Davis had never been considered a suspect before. She has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held on $500,000 bond.
When Cliff McClanahan was found stabbed to death inside his Clay County home, it was the first in more than a century for Smithville. The city's only seen three murders in its entire history.
Legal documents said the sheriff's office requested that the Kansas City Police Department recheck finger prints in May. In September, officials were able to connect palm prints found at the crime scene to Davis.
Since that time there has been a warrant out for Davis' arrest and officers found her Monday morning.
According to court documents, Davis told detectives she had dated McClanahan for several years and had cared for him. In 1990, she would have been 21 and he would have been 70 years old.
Court records indicate that the victim would pick up prostitutes in northeast Kansas City and take them to his home.
However, McClanahan and Davis supposedly were closer than that. They dated and cared for each other, authorities said.
Court documents said Davis told detectives she had been in the kitchen that summer night using crack and McClanahan had caught her. She said he was against drugs and had slapped her. That's when she told detectives she picked up a knife and stabbed him in the back as well as in multiple other locations on his body.
After cleaning up, she ran from the house. She told detectives she believed McClanahan was still alive on the hall floor at that point, according to court documents. McClanahan later died from his stabbing injuries.
Vescovo said the break is very significant.
"Why it stuck with me. This happened on my watch. In fact, as I recall, the chief of police in Smithville at that time was out of town, I think he was in Jefferson City, so this case landed in my lap. That's why it stuck with me - it happened on my watch, this was a particularly brutal crime and I wasn't going to let it go," he said.
McClanahan's only living relative, his daughter, is still living in Smithville. She says she's thankful for the closure in her father's death but said the painful memories will always be fresh for her, the sheriff said.
"Now that I'm moving into the latter parts of my law enforcement career, I feel I can leave with a clean slate," the sheriff said.
Davis told detectives that she knew she would eventually be arrested for the man's death, according to court documents. She said she had told just one person about the crime and that man has since died.
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