Suspect arrested in 1986 murder after he crossed the border to celebrate birthday

Police arrested an 85-year-old man on Tuesday, decades after he allegedly stabbed a 27-year-old woman to death in Texas, according to police.

Barbara Villarreal was found dead on Nov. 7, 1986, in Garland, about 20 miles from Dallas. She had been repeatedly stabbed and a large kitchen knife was found nearby.

At the time, police interviewed and cleared her husband, officials said. The pair did not have any children.

Police also recovered DNA evidence at the scene and entered it into CODIS, the United States' national DNA database.

Officers worked with the FBI on the investigation over the years and tracked leads in both Mexico and the U.S. They identified Liborio Canales, now 85, as a suspect, and determined that he sometimes stayed at a home in Lovington, New Mexico. Canales is the brother of the victim's husband, police said.

Liborio Canales / Credit: Garland Police Department
Liborio Canales / Credit: Garland Police Department

Canales was in Mexico for most of the year, but he crossed the border to enter New Mexico on Monday so he could celebrate his birthday with family, authorities said. He was arrested by officers from Lovington and Garland on Tuesday and was booked into the Lea County Detention Center on a federal warrant for the charge of murder.

After his arrest, Canales admitted to the homicide and told detectives he was upset with Villarreal over a family argument of some kind, Garland police said.

Bond was set at $1 million. Canales is expected to be extradited to Texas in the coming days.

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