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5.12 Needles - Cold case, arrest for murder after 27 years

Jimmy Joe Cox, 71, of Needles was arrested Wednesday for the murder of his former girlfriend Carole Spearman, 24. California authorities have made a homicide arrest more than 27 years after body parts of the victim were found in the Colorado River in northwest Arizona.

An investigation began when a citizen found a human hand in the river near the Topock Bridge December 24, 1982. San Bernardino County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Jodi Miller said Cox contacted law enforcement authorities eight days after the discovery, inquiring about the hand while stating he hadn't seen Spearman for more than a week.

Miller said it was determined in early January, 1983, that it was Spearman's hand that had been found in the river. She said Spearman's head was located in the river near the Topock Marina on January 23, 1983.

Cox was always considered a "person of interest" but that , lacking evidence of the homicide, the case went cold. The case was reopened last September with California and Arizona authorities working together. Additional interviews were conducted and a comprehensive case analysis led to the arrest of Cox. It wasn't an instance of new technology, blood analysis or evidence discovery that led to the charging decision.

SBCSO said they cannot answer questions on investigator's theory of why or where the murder was committed. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office 909-387-3598 or the We-Tip Hotline 800-782-7463.

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