Cold case murder solved after more than a decade

Craig Demetrius Porter, 41, of Houston, is charged with murder for the 2002 death of Cherita Thurman, 22.

January 16, 2013 2:39:12 PM PST
Two years ago, Arvis Thurman of Houston pleaded with the public, in a TV news interview, for information that would help solve the September 2002 killing of her only daughter, Cherita Thurman, 22.

"We have got to solve this case. They think they have gotten by with it, but they haven't," Arvis said.

Indeed, "they" have not. Thanks largely to DNA evidence, the Harris County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit has filed a murder charge against Cherita Thurman's killer, ex-convict Craig Demetrius Porter, 41, of Houston.

Since Sheriff Adrian Garcia resurrected the Cold Case Unit in early 2009, this is the 17th instance in which the Unit has brought criminal charges in a homicide case that had gone dormant for a long period.

"Our cold case squad is second to none," Sheriff Garcia said. "I want to thank them for their incredible work in making sure that cases that were cold get thawed out as soon as possible."

Cherita's nude, bound and battered body was found in her home at the Haverstock Hills apartment complex, which later became a notorious crime haven, even named one of Houston's most dangerous apartment complexes in 2010. Local law enforcement agencies have taken extra steps in efforts to stifle criminal activity there.

Cherita's death was caused by asphyxiation, according to an autopsy. HCSO investigators gathered evidence from her apartment at the time and, until 2012, had not matched it to the DNA of any known individual. But soon after Porter's DNA information was gathered while he served a state jail sentence for manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs, officials say the material from the apartment was matched through a law enforcement database.

Investigators gathered more evidence before arresting Porter at his Harris County residence Tuesday. He is in the Harris County Jail pending trial.

Porter has a criminal record that includes felony drug possession, robbery with bodily injury and assault. He has not confessed to murdering Cherita Thurman.

But a decade after the murder, news of Porter's arrest brings relief, and fresh tears and anger to the surface for the people who knew and loved Cherita.

"I thank God for you," Arvis Thurman told HCSO investigators at a news conference with the sheriff on Wednesday. "There's some kind of closure there."

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