HOUSTON – Houston police believe they've solved at least one of the strangulation murders of three area women since June.
They got a break in the case when DNA evidence from one victim matched a homeless man with a criminal history.
Lucky Ward, 46, was arrested Thursday and will be charged with capital murder in the death of 52-year-old Retia Faye Long.
"We had officers from homicide just driving around downtown looking for the suspect, and we just got lucky and found him," said HPD Lt. Humberto Lopez.
Investigators said Ward confessed to killing Long after he was arrested. He said they had an argument.
Long was found dead on Sept. 30 in a stairwell behind the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at 1700 San Jacinto.
Robert Ausberry, who considered Long his common-law wife, said he was relieved to hear an arrest had been made in the case, but wishes he had a hand in the punishment.
"I wanna wrap something around his neck and strangle him just like he did my wife," said Ausberry.
Ward has a long rap sheet dating back to 1984 for charges including assault, robbery and theft.
Investigators haven't ruled Ward out as a suspect in the unsolved murders of two other women. They are questioning him about the deaths of 62-year-old Carol Flood and 24-year-old Raquel Mundy.
On Oct. 10, the body of Flood was found on Oct. 10 in a stairwell behind the old YMCA building. She'd been strangled and was nude from the waist down.
Flood was last seen around 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the Edwards Greenway Palace Theater at 3839 Weslayan. Investigators said she watched three movies and probably left the theater around 9:30 p.m. She was a regular at the theater, according to the manager.
Police believe it's possible the same killer may have strangled Mundy last June 17, then dumped her body in a field in the 300 block of St. Charles.
Mundy was murdered after apparently accepting a ride from a stranger when she became stranded downtown.
Mundy had taken her mom and two children to the Greyhound bus station downtown around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. She later discovered her car had been towed from a McDonald’s parking lot across the street.
Mundy's mother said she received a text message from Raquel saying she thought she was in danger and feared the man she was with was going to hurt her.
Raquel's body was found the next day. She was also nude from the waist down.
"Next call we got, they had found the body. It was my baby," Collins said as she choked back tears at a news conference in June. "This man took away my baby."
Police are still waiting for DNA from the Flood and Mundy cases.
Police are asking anyone with information on the three cases to contact HPD Homicide at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. A $5,000 reward is being offered in each case for information leading to the arrest of the killer or killers.