Man arrested for Charleston sailor's 17-year-old shooting death

By Sam Tyson and Harve Jacobs  bio | email | Twitter

MISSOLUA, MT (WCSC) - An unsolved murder of a Charleston-based sailor led investigators to a Montana town to make an arrest -- 17 years later.

Court documents from Missoula County say the suspect, 38-year-old Charles Welty, admitted to investigators that he and other men sexually assaulted, beat and killed 22-year-old James Alan Horton in October, 1992.

Welty Monday faced a courtroom where he was charged by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Missoula County Sheriff's Office with murder in connection to Horton's death.

Before the admission, the case had gone unsolved. The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and NCIS' Cold Case Unit have been collecting DNA samples from some people, hoping it would lead to a suspect.

Sheriff's office spokesman Dan Moon declined to say if DNA led to the arrest of Welty in Montana.

Horton's body was found face down in a drainage ditch off Summerville Light Road in Berkeley County in November, 1992. His hand were tied behind his back and he had been shot in the chest and hit in the head with a blunt object.

NCIS investigators said evidence indicated Horton knew his attacker.

Horton's mother, Rosaline Horton, said Tuesday that she was pleased police had found her son's alleged killer.

"It was great news. we waited a good many years, 17 years," she said from her home in upstate New York. "They worked on it for 17 years and we never gave up."

She found out about the arrest from her daughter who lives in Lexington County, S.C.

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