Eddie Arcaro once lived in Anna Keusch's rental house in Canton.
He did odd jobs for her as she tried to run a corner grocery she had opened with her husband on Dillon Street in 1947.
And he went to her funeral at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church on South Conkling Street, a few days after the 86-year-old was raped and asphyxiated in her apartment above the store on June 1, 1991.
This week, Baltimore police charged Eddie Arcaro in the death of Anna Keusch, based on tests that they say link DNA taken from him after his arrest in a recent theft case to genetic material found by detectives at the scene of the killing nearly two decades ago.
The break in the case allowed police Lt. Matthew Bauler of the cold-case squad to call a relative of the victim with some news. "That's one of the good things about this whole job — bringing closure to the family," the detective said. "Especially in the death of an 86-year-old woman."
Keusch's 83-year-old daughter-in-law, Elaine Keusch, said that she knew the suspect and that he was among many names mentioned as residents talked about the horrific attack so many years ago.
"Nobody knew who it was who did that," Elaine Keusch said. "We were talking at one time or another that it was this guy or that guy. I'm so glad they found somebody. She didn't deserve what happened to her."
Anna Keusch's husband, Charles, died in 1971. Her youngest and eldest sons are dead, and she has one elderly sister living in Minnesota. Elaine Mohr, 60, married Keusch's grandson and still lives around the corner from the old Canton store.
Detectives said the investigation stalled for nearly two decades for want of evidence. "Everything was cold," Bauler said.
Police at the time said someone broke into Keusch's second-story apartment to get into the store on the first floor by kicking down a door that opened onto a staircase. They said $95 was taken from a cash register; Keusch owned the store but had leased it to someone else to run.
Police were called by a store employee who arrived at work to find the place ransacked. They found Keusch's body in her bed. Bauler said she had been raped, asphyxiated and beaten. It was unclear whether detectives questioned Arcaro at that time.
Arcaro, who is now 47 and lives with his mother in the 1900 block of Walnut Ave. in Dundalk, has been in and out of trouble for years. His mother said he doesn't have a job. His most recent charge before this arrest came in the fall of last year.
He was convicted of felony theft for stealing $2,025 from Sharkey's Liquors; his mother said it was the result of a fraudulent check he had cashed. He was ordered to pay restitution and sentenced to three years' probation. But authorities also collected his DNA, which is done for every person arrested in crimes of violence or burglary-related cases.
Those DNA samples are sent to a statewide database and compared with samples recovered from the scenes of thousands of unsolved crimes. Police said the computer matched the samples from Keusch's slaying to the one taken from Arcaro.
Bauler said detectives questioned Arcaro last week but did not arrest him immediately. The lieutenant said they obtained a second DNA sample from him; when that sample also matched, he said, police arrested Arcaro on Tuesday at a friend's house in Essex. He was charged with first-degree murder, rape and assault.
Arcaro's 64-yar-old mother, Carmen Feliciano, said a homicide detective had stopped by her house and questioned her son last week. That's when she first heard her son might be a suspect in the death of a woman she had known well.
"They said Eddie was accused of murder," Feliciano said. "Then they said it was Mrs. Keusch. I couldn't believe it."
When told her son had been charged, Feliciano broke down in tears over the telephone. "This is terrible," she said. "I've never in my life been through anything like this. Ever. Oh, my Lord. Oh, my
God. Oh, Lord. I can't believe this."
Feliciano said her son had worked with his brother selling hotdogs from a stand at flea markets but had never gotten into serious trouble. "I talked with him all the time and told him to do the right things, like any mother would do," she said.
The mother and son had rented one of Keusch's houses on Curley Street for 18 years, near where she had lived above the store. "She was a very nice person," Feliciano said.
Of her killing, the mother of the accused said, "It was horrible."
So horrible, she said, that she took her son to her landlord's funeral.
Now, she is revisiting that sad time all over again. Only now she's crying over an arrested son.
Said Feliciano: "I didn't know it would come to this."