VICTORVILLE – A 20-year-old cold case murder might have been solved by the arrest of a suspect in Amarillo, Texas last week.
On Saturday, San Bernardino County detectives brought Steven Sylvester, 57, back to California to stand on charges of murdering Robert Dennis, who was 52, in Victorville in 1992. The case was reopened in 2010 when information about Sylvester turned up in Shamrock, a north Texas city located near the Oklahoma border.
Sylvester, who was captured by authorities in Amarillo, Texas, had been identified as a suspect in the Nov. 5, 1992 murder after being associated with Dennis in the days before his death. Dennis had been found dead by his mother in their home in the 13200 block on High Desert Rd. in Victorville. Investigators had discovered that Dennis’ car had disappeared, and also collected photographs from Dennis’ bedroom.
Sylvester, whose photo was found among those discovered by investigators, could not be located. Identified as a suspect in the case, detectives were unable to find him, and the case went cold after two years. They said that Dennis had reportedly picked up Sylvester, who was hitch-hiking, though there was no motive cited. Upon the death of Dennis’ mother in 2010, investigators reopened the case.
Investigators contacted employees at homeless shelters in Amarillo and Shamrock, telling them to call if anyone saw Sylvester, who is a transient known to frequent such places. Detectives later received information that Sylvester had been seen at a shelter near Amarillo. They also identified Sylvester’s possible home address.
Officers from the Amarillo Police Dept. captured Sylvester. Investigators from San Bernardino County traveled to Texas and interviewed Sylvester, who provided information tying himself to Dennis’ death, according to reports.
The Cold Case team is funded through a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Justice. County investigators brought back Sylvester and booked him in West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on $1 million bail.
High Desert Daily Press: Man arrested in Texas 20 years after Victorville murder
Amarillo.com: Calif. murder suspect arrested in Amarillo
The Sun: Texas transient held in 20-year-old SB County cold case