COVINGTON - The Newton County Sheriff's Office joined forces with the U.S. Marshals Service last week in a concerted effort to apprehend a total of 32 fugitives from the law, including one man who was recently identified as a suspect in a 21-year-old murder in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tony Fantauzzi was arrested in Newton County on Wednesday on a warrant issued in Pinellas County, Fla. He is charged with first-degree murder and was awaiting extradition.
In 1987, the body of 19-year-old Lisa Bickford was found near a mall in St. Petersburg. Police said she had been strangled and raped. A suspect was identified, but authorities said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him.
With advances in forensic technology, however, police say they've connected Fantauzzi to the crime through DNA evidence.
The arrest came about as the result of a teaming of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Newton County Sheriff's Office. According to U.S. Marshals Service Inspector Wayne Warren, his department had experienced a great deal of success in teaming up with the NCSO in the past, and when deputies called and requested their help in clearing up several outstanding arrest warrants, they were happy to help.
Teaming with the U.S. Marshals aids local deputies in
tracking down fugitives on two fronts. The marshals can help provide much-needed manpower, and marshals have a wider reach, as they have the ability to go after people anywhere in the country without notifying the local jurisdiction's law enforcement personnel, thereby saving time.
Warren said a total of about seven or eight marshals and seven or eight deputies began at about 5 a.m. Wednesday, and by Friday afternoon had apprehended a total of 32 fugitives.
"This is all Newton County, this goes on their shoulders," Warren said. "They know the people out there, they've dealt with them. That have great intel."
Colin M. Stewart may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.