Suspected Arrested in Wendy Burdette Murder Case After 26 Years

Suspected Arrested in Wendy Burdette Murder Case After 26 Years

By: Iline Tang
NewsWest 9

ODESSA, TX - An arrest was made this week in an Odessa murder case that went unsolved for 26 years, police said.

It was back on February 17, 1989 that investigators found the body of 15-year-old Wendy Burdette on West 2nd Street behind Permian Metals.

Police said she had been brutally beaten and her throat was cut. No suspect was identified and the case eventually went cold. It wasn't until more than two decades later that Thompson Stricklen, 52, was arrested Thursday night for the crime.

"We were able to purse this and obtain a warrant for Stricklen for murder and for sexual assault," said Cpl. Steve LeSueur, the Odessa Police spokesman.

Stricklen was staying in Rusk County which is in East Texas. Odessa Police made the long drive to place him in handcuffs.

"He was transported back here to Ector County and he's currently in the Ector County Sheriff's Office," LeSueur said.

According to detectives, it took them years to solve this murder case because they initially had no probable cause. Back in February, they got a break.

"We were informed by DPS earlier this year that a sample of Stricklen's DNA matched the sample that was found at the murder scene," LeSueur said.

Stricklen is a registered sex offender and by state law, he's required to submit DNA samples. Just a week ago, officials confirmed that Stricklen's DNA matched the DNA that was collected from Burdette's autopsy.

"At once when we received that DNA match, that gave us probable cause to obtain the warrants for him," LeSueur said. "This is just a perfect example of how there is always hope for the families of these cold case murder victims."