A 21-year-old cigarette butt led to yesterday’s charges against a former South End man who allegedly killed an 87-year-old woman two decades ago.
Charles Brook Jr., 66, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Zahia Salem during his arraignment yesterday.
Salem was found bloodied, battered and strangled in her South End apartment in November 1989. The investigation never led to a suspect, authorities said, but investigators were able to collect material from scrapings underneath Salem’s fingernails and a cigarette butt found in a saucer. Authorities said she did not smoke.
The cold case was reopened by investigators from the Boston Police Department and the Suffolk district attorney’s office. A DNA profile was developed from the cigarette and a match led them to Brook.
Brook was already in jail and had to submit DNA from a 1991 felony conviction.
“This case shows the power and promise of DNA technology as a proven crime-solving tool,” said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.