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Cigarette used to charge Illinois man for murder of Wisconsin teen

Amber Creek (photo from WITI)

Amber Creek (photo from WITI)

Fingerprints from the crime scene and a discarded cigarette reportedly helped investigators make an arrest in the 1997 murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Amber Creek was beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated with a plastic bag over her head when her body was found in the Karcher Springs Wildlife Area in Wisconsin in 1997. It took more than a year for investigators to identify her body through dental records and the database from the national Center for Missing and Exploited children. She had been reported a runaway.

Initially, fingerprints found on the plastic bag did not match those on file in several crime labs across the country according to our sister station WITI.

Then came a break in the case when, in late February 2014, Oklahoma investigators matched latent fingerprints on the bag to those of 36-year-old James Eaton of Palatine, Illinois. DNA analyzed from a cigarette, recently smoked and discarded by Eaton at a Chicago-area train station, was compared to DNA recovered from Amber Creek’s body, and police say it also was a match.

Investigators think people who know Eaton could have information that may help their case. Anyone with information about Eaton is asked to call Racine County Criminal Investigations at (262) 636-3225 or Racine Crime Stoppers at (888)-636-9330.

Eaton faced charges of first-degree intentional homicide and with hiding a corpse, WITI reported.

Eaton was held in the Racine County, Wisconsin Jail in lieu of $1-million bond.

James Eaton photo from Racine County Wisconsin Sheriff's Office

James Eaton photo from Racine County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office