GARY, Ind. (STMW) — A former Gary man has been charged with murder in a 1979 case reopened more than 18 months ago, the Post-Tribune is reporting.

L.C. Strong, 64, was charged in the strangulation death of Linda Martin, whose body was found on Feb. 21, 1979, in the eastbound lane of 23rd Avenue west of Rutledge Street in Gary.

Lake County police Cmdr. Dennis Matthew Eaton reopened the investigation into Martin’s death in May 2012 and submitted evidence, including Martin’s clothing, a rape kit and fingernail clippings, to the Indiana State Police for DNA analysis.

Martin’s first cousin told police that the night Martin was killed she had gone to the Playboy Lounge on 11th Avenue in Gary, where she would sing and tend bar. She put her children, then 11 and 8, to bed and went to meet a man, who was later questioned and cleared through DNA testing.

The next morning, Martin’s cousin, who lived in the same apartment building, found Martin’s children alone and upset that their mother hadn’t come home.

In August 2012, Indiana State police received a hit from a national DNA database for Strong, who at the time of the homicide lived three blocks from where Martin’s body was found.

That month, police traveled to Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco, Mich., to get a DNA sample from Strong, an inmate who told investigators he grew up in Gary and lived with his parents at 2355 Roosevelt St., until he married in 1970. He vehemently denied knowing Martin or any woman named Linda but said he was familiar with the Playboy Lounge, although he never went inside.

DNA testing linked Strong to DNA evidence from Martin’s body.

Eaton also interviewed the owner of the lounge, who confirmed that Martin had been there the evening she was killed and had been drinking.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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