News


St. Petersburg Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Solve 1976 Homicide Case

7/17/2007
 
On Sept. 17, 1976 at 12:43 a.m., patrol officers were flagged down by a citizen who had discovered the body of an elderly woman lying face down near the front entrance of the Greenwood Cemetery located at the corner of 11th Avenue South and 9th Street in St. Petersburg. The woman's undergarments had been pulled down to her knees and her pink colored nightgown and coat had been pulled up above her waist.

St. Petersburg Police Detective Charles 'Buddy' San Marco was assigned as the lead investigator on the case. After an autopsy was performed, the Medical Examiner determined the victim had been raped and died as the result of 27 stab wounds to her chest and back.

The victim was identified as Mary Barth. She was 85 years old at the time of the murder.

Mary lived with her sister at 819 12th Avenue South in St. Petersburg. She suffered from dementia and was prone to wandering from home. Mary's sister last saw her a few hours before she was found dead, at about 8 p.m. on Sept. 16, 1976, and had contacted the police to report Mary missing about the same time that she was found dead in the cemetery.

In 2006, St. Petersburg Police Investigator Brenda Stevenson resubmitted evidence from the case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FDLE investigators obtained a DNA profile from the evidence and submitted it to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) data bank, producing a match between the DNA at the scene and a convicted sexual offender, who was identified as Alfonso Austin, 58. Austin's DNA had been entered into the CODIS database after previous convictions.

Austin is also a registered sexual offender on the FDLE Web site.

Detective Sgt. Michael Kovacsev and Investigator Stevenson researched Austin and discovered that he lived at 1111 9th Street South in St. Petersburg at the time of the homicide, directly across the street from the cemetery where the homicide occurred. They learned that Austin had also been arrested about one year after the homicide for an attempted sexual battery with a similar MO as the Mary Barth homicide, which occurred about one mile from the scene of the homicide. They also learned that Austin has been arrested for two sexual offenses since the homicide.

Detective Sgt. Kovacsev met with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and an arrest warrant was issued for Austin on the charge of first-degree murder.

On July 16, 2007, Detective Sgt. Kovacsev, Investigator Stevenson and an FDLE agent drove to Austin's current residence in Quincy, Fla. where they placed him under arrest for the Mary Barth homicide. Austin admitted to killing Mary Barth and also made statements implying his involvement in another St. Petersburg murder that occurred four months before the Mary Barth case. Austin was transported to the Gadsden County Jail where he was booked on the arrest warrant.

For more information, contact:
Bill Proffit
Spokesperson
St. Petersburg Police Department
(727) 893-7711

Trena Reddick
Public Information Officer
FDLE - Tampa Bay
(813) 878-7239 or 878-7300