In 1978, pantlegs were wide, mustaches were big, a cellphone was something you wheeled in on a cart, and police couldn't count on the kind of DNA and fingerprint technology they have today.

And so it is that after 33 years the LAPD announced that it has solved the homicide of 52-year-old James Gentry, whose body was found April 10, 1978 in a neighborhood north of Palms now known as Westside Village.

The suspect, 62-year-old Walter Randolph Peartree, was arrested at his Delaware, Ohio home at 7:30 a.m. today based on a murder warrant obtained by the LAPD. Why did he allegedly do it?

Det. Rick Jackson told the Weekly he believes the stabbing attack happened during the commission of a robbery: Gentry's car and other items had been taken, he said. The vehicle was found at Fifth Street and Crocker Avenue near Skid Row.

Walter Peartree.; Credit: LAPD

Walter Peartree.; Credit: LAPD

Genty was a businessman, cops said. It wasn't clear if the two knew each other, but there were no sings of forced entry, according to Jackson.

How'd they solve it? Jackson wouldn't go into details, saying only that …

… basically it comes down to the new tech as it may relate to DNA or fingerprint computer modeling.

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Jackson says Peartree was a carny working on a traveling show that had gone as far west as Arizona at the time. “He was out this way,” he said.

The suspect is scheduled to appear in court in Ohio tomorrow to determine if he'll challenge extradition to California.


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