Tulsa County investigators have made a major breakthrough in the 45-year-old cold-case homicide of a Sperry woman who was found dead in a field north of Tulsa.

Using newly tested DNA evidence, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s Cold Case Task Force reportedly has linked a suspect to the 1973 homicide of Veda Woodson. Investigators are now seeking 78-year-old Stanley Clabough, who is believed to live in the Tulsa area.

Woodson, 38, was on her way home to Sperry from a custodial shift at a Tulsa bank about 1 a.m. July 26, 1973, when her 1958 Chevrolet broke down in the 8800 block of North Cincinnati Avenue, according to the Sheriff’s Office and Tulsa Crime Stoppers. About an hour later, police found Woodson’s body in a field not far from her car. The mother of four had been raped and strangled. Her vehicle’s driver’s-side door was open; the door’s window was shattered; and the car’s lights were on.

Investigators said Stanley Clabough’s name surfaced early in the initial investigation but that an arrest was never made.

Doc Shannon, a member of the Cold Case Task Force, said the investigation progressed within the last six weeks when a sheriff’s deputy with access to the Sheriff’s Office’s cache of physical evidence was assigned to the unit.

A piece of evidence that allegedly had been in Clabough’s car was sent to a DNA lab, and testing revealed the presence of Woodson’s DNA, Shannon said.

“There was no credible explanation for that evidence with the victim’s DNA (on it) to be in the suspect’s car,” Shannon told the Tulsa World.

He declined to describe the evidence in detail.

When the results came back, four members of the Cold Case Task Force met with about 20 members of Woodson’s family, including her brothers, her children and their spouses, Shannon said.

“There were lots and lots of tears for them to just know that they have a little more clarity regarding this case,” he said.

The testing was conducted by DNA Labs International, a Deerfield Beach, Florida, company that specializes in forensic DNA analysis. The testing was paid for through private donations to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Foundation.

The Sheriff’s Office is now searching for Clabough, who investigators believe is being protected by his family.

Mike Huff, leader of the task force, said in a news release that those who are protecting Clabough or have information about Woodson’s death need to come forward.

“This case is 45 years old,” Huff said. “So many of the witnesses are dead now. With every day that passes, we potentially lose more witnesses who hold the key to bringing Veda’s killer to justice.”

The Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information on Woodson’s murder or Clabough’s alleged involvement to call the Cold Case Task Force at 918-596-5723.

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Staff Writer

Reece joined the Tulsa World in 2017 and covers breaking news, crime and a dash of everything else. He's a Nebraska native. Phone: 918-581-8455

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