Man, 61, is arrested after DNA links him to 1985 cold case kidnapping, rape and murder of 78-year-old woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home

 A man has been charged over the cold-case kidnapping, rape and murder of a 78-year-old woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home in April 1985.

Richard C. Lange, now 61, was arrested after a review of cold cases by Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office allegedly matched a DNA sample from the victim to a state database.

Lange now faces first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault charges.


The sheriff's office did not release the victim's name, but 1985 news stories identify her as Mildred Matheny.

Matheny went missing from her home in  Lake Worth, Florida, at 4:30pm on April 27, 1985. 

She was found unconscious, nude and beaten along a remote dirt road seven hours later, about 25 miles from where she had disappeared. 

CBS12 reports that her clothing was found scattered across the street, as well as dentures, which were stained with blood.

Richard C. Lange, 61, has been arrested in a cold case dating back to April 1985
The sheriff's office did not release the victim's name, but 1985 news stories identify her as Mildred Matheny

Richard C. Lange (left), 61, has been arrested in a cold case dating back to April 1985. The sheriff's office did not release the victim's name, but 1985 news stories identify her as Mildred Matheny (right)

The unsolved solved case of Mildred Matheny
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She was taken to the Juniper Medical Center to see a neurosurgeon for a severe head injury.

She died 11 days later and her death was ruled a homicide.

Matheny was a retired nurse, who had moved from Arkansas to Lake Worth, Florida to move in with her sister.

In a video released by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office in 2019, a person of interest in her death allegedly told passersby that he was going to give Matheny a ride home when she was spotted in his vehicle.

State and county records show Lange has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions in 1983 and 1993 for aggravated assault, receiving probation each time. 

He also was convicted of weapons charges in 2006 and 2012, receiving short jail sentences.

Matheny, who suffered from dementia, wandered out of her home in Lake Worth, Florida

Matheny, who suffered from dementia, wandered out of her home in Lake Worth, Florida

Matheny, was found beaten, nude, and unconscious on a dirt road 25 miles away from where she vanished

Matheny, was found beaten, nude, and unconscious on a dirt road 25 miles away from where she vanished

In its press release, the sheriff's office says its homicide cold case unit submitted DNA found on the victim to the state database in March.

DNA processing has only recently become available for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Crime Lab according to the release, which may explain why he wasn't previously linked to the crime after his previous connections.

The submitting of DNA from the cold case last month was part of a periodic review of cold cases by the county.

Detectives then received a warrant to obtain saliva from Lange, who was tested Thursday at his Boynton Beach home, about 10 miles from where Matheny was abuducted.

His DNA again matched the sample and he was arrested, the sheriff's office said. 

He denied any connection to the killing. A judge Friday ordered him held without bond.

In 1985, Lange was 25 and living in Palm Beach County, records show. 


The crime scene included her clothes spread out and bloody dentures

The crime scene included her clothes spread out and bloody dentures

A judge Friday ordered Lange to be held without bond. He denies connection to the killing

A judge Friday ordered Lange to be held without bond. He denies connection to the killing

Matheny was a widow who suffered from dementia, likely Alzheimer's disease, according to a 1985 story in the Palm Beach Post. 

She had recently moved from Arkansas to live with her sister in Lake Worth, Florida, and was not allowed outside alone because of fears she would wander away.

But because of some family confusion, Matheny got outside on the afternoon of April 27, 1985. Neighbors had seen her walking down the street in her pajamas, but no one reported witnessing her abduction. 

Her pajamas were found near her when she was discovered by a passerby hours later in Jupiter, Florida.

'It's pretty bad when a grandmother goes outside for a walk and winds up knocked out on some dirt road,' Lake Worth police Lt. Marty Kerner said in 1985.

Man, 61, is arrested after DNA links him to 1985 cold case kidnapping, rape and murder of 78-year-old woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home Man, 61, is arrested after DNA links him to 1985 cold case kidnapping, rape and murder of 78-year-old woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:17 Rating: 5

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