Prison inmate charged in Fort Worth homicide

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Just days before he was to be freed from a Texas prison, a 39-year-old convict is instead awaiting transfer to the Tarrant County Jail to face accusations that he fatally beat and sexually assaulted a woman in Fort Worth in 2005.

Ricky James Jack was charged Tuesday with capital murder in he sexual assault and slaying of Ella Sterling, whose partially clothed body was found June 20, 2005, in brush behind a convenience store at 4100 E. Berry St.

The 51-year-old woman had died from a blow to the head.

Jack was scheduled to be released from prison on Thursday.

The arrest came after cold case investigator Sarah Jane Waters reviewed the unsolved homicide and identified items of clothing that could be screened for possible evidence using current forensic testing, said homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson.

A DNA profile was obtained from the clothing and entered into the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS, Johnson said.

In January, Waters learned that the DNA database had linked the profile to Jack, a current inmate at the Lychner State Jail in Humble.

"Once the CODIS hit was obtained, research showed Jack was due to be released in early March," Johnson said. "Due to the violent nature of this offense, we felt it was important to get all testing completed prior to the release."

Armed with a search warrant, Waters obtained a new DNA sample from Jack and subsequent testing confirmed the match, Johnson said.

A capital murder warrant was obtained for Jack on Feb. 26, Johnson said.

Family members have said that when younger, Sterling served in the Army and worked as a nurse but enjoyed partying more in her later life.

She had last been seen leaving her east Fort Worth home on foot about 10 p.m. on June 19, 2005. Around 3 p.m. the next day, her body was found about two blocks away outside the Savor Food Store at 4100 E. Berry St. that she frequented.

Edith Ervin, Sterling’s niece, said she and family members never gave up hope an arrest would be made one day be made in her aunt’s slaying.

“That’s a weird feeling on the inside - just to be wondering where he’s at? Are you walking past him? Are you staring him in the face? You never know,” Ervin said.

Tarrant County court records show that, between 2001 and 2006, Jack was convicted of possession of a control substance, credit card abuse and delivery of a controlled substance, for which he was sentenced to two, 1-year stints in state jail. He also had misdemeanor convictions during that time for burglary of a vehicle and prostitution, court records show.

Since that time, Jack picked up three theft convictions out of Harris County. He was most recently sentenced in July 2012 to 240 days incarceration for theft under $1,500, state records show.

Deanna Boyd, (817) 390-7655

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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4100 E. Berry St., Fort Worth, TX
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