A California man suspected of raping and killing a 79-year-old woman more than three decades ago was identified Tuesday after authorities examined fingernail scrapings that provided a DNA match.

Galt Police Chief Brian Kalinowski told reporters that advances in DNA technology allowed investigators to identify Terry Leroy Bramble as the man who is alleged to have sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed Lucille Hultgren in her Northern California home in May 1988.

“The fingernails were key to solving this case,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said.

A motive in the killing remained unknown. Bramble, whom authorities described as a sex offender and a “longtime resident and transient” in the small community of Galt, died in October 2011 of natural causes.

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