Top leading stories of 2009 - Cousins arrested in 1997 slaying

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By The Staff

TELL CITY - A day relatives and friends of Deborah Mills Cioe had prayed to see for more than 12 years arrived in April when a Perry County grand jury indicted two men on charges they killed the 21-year-old Tell City woman.  

Thomas Eugene Lane, of 7076 Alamo Road, Tell City, and his cousin, Thomas Daniel Lane, of 303 Washington St., Gentryville remain in jail on charges of murder, felony murder and attempted rape.

Cioe's body was found along Highwater Road, just south of Millstone Road, March 3, 1997. She had been reported missing three days earlier. Authorities said she suffered a deep cut to the left side of her neck and died from blood loss.

The death was immediately ruled a homicide but Indiana State Police investigators were unable to establish enough probable cause to arrest anyone.  Leads and additional information on the crime grew cold in the years immediately following her death and a number of the original investigators retired, state police said Wednesday night.

However, detectives and troopers at the Jasper Post continued to examine the case and reopened the investigation last year as part of a state program to investigate "cold cases" of murder and other violent crimes.

"The technology finally caught up with the science," Perry County Prosecutor Robert Collins said the day after the arrests. He declined to speak about what evidence tied the two cousins to Cioe. Since grand-jury proceedings are secret, details of the evidence presented weren't made public.

A representative of the murdered woman's family issued a statement Wednesday expressing relief that arrests had been made.  "We would like to thank the Indiana State Police for their ongoing dedication in pursuing justice for Deborah. We have been praying for this day for over 12 years and we, as her family, can finally begin to seek closure."