ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. – An arrest has been made in the 1999 murder of Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Bartee, bringing the 18-year-old mystery closer to being solved.
The sheriff’s office announced Wednesday detectives had arrested Robert Lee Williams, 70, on suspicion of first-degree murder charges in Bartee’s death, and say he was still living in the same Centennial apartment complex where Bartee was found dead 18 years ago.
Public records show the two lived on the same floor at the apartment complex when Bartee was killed.
Bartee became a deputy district attorney in Arapahoe County after working as the DA in Hays, Kansas. Her primary work involved tracking down and prosecuting parents who were skipping out on child support payments, but she had only been on the job for 3 weeks when she was murdered.
She had a “severely handicapped” daughter whom she dedicated herself to when she wasn’t working, according to the sheriff’s office.
She left work on Friday, June 4, 1999, but never showed back up to work the next Monday morning. Fellow prosecutors went to her home and discovered Bartee dead in her bathtub.
Voice messages left on her phone by her daughter’s caregiver had gone unreturned—something that was out of the ordinary, and the county coroner found Bartee had been dead since shortly after she arrived home on June 4.
Initially, investigators believed Bartee may have had a seizure and drowned in the bath tub, but said evidence later led them to believe she was murdered.
Investigators weren’t able to charge any suspects in the months and years that followed.
But recently, a tipster brought new evidence forward in the case, according to the sheriff’s office, and investigators were able to obtain a warrant for Williams’s arrest.
Authorities took Williams into custody Tuesday afternoon. His arrest affidavit has been sealed, so further details about the case are not currently available.
“We, along with the victim’s family, are thankful someone came forward with new information, even after 18 years,” a statement from the sheriff’s office said.
Williams is next due in court Thursday morning for his first appearance, according to court records. He is being held without bond for the time being.