Slaying suspect out of jail after grand jury declines to indict him

Posted Friday, Dec. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A man accused in a capital murder case was released from the Tarrant County Jail on Thursday after a grand jury declined to indict him.

Ricky James Jack, 40, of Fort Worth was scheduled to be freed from a Texas prison in March when he received news that he was accused of sexually assaulting and fatally beating a woman in Fort Worth in 2005.

Investigators found Jack’s DNA on an article of clothing belonging to Ella Sterling, whose partly clothed body was found June 20, 2005, in brush behind a convenience store at 4100 E. Berry St. Sterling, 51, died from a blow to the head.

Jack’s attorney, Wes Ball, said Friday that his client acknowledged having contact with the woman but said she was alive when he left her.

“I think the DA came to believe that either he did not do it or the evidence that he did it was pretty thin,” Ball said. “I was able to go up to the jail on Thursday and tell him … ‘The grand jury has no-billed your capital murder case.’ He said, ‘I get to go home?’ And I said, ‘You get to go home. Merry Christmas.’ 

Jack was arrested after cold-case investigator Sarah Jane Waters reviewed the unsolved homicide and identified clothing that could be screened for evidence using current forensic testing, homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson said.

Johnson said a DNA profile was obtained from the clothing and entered into the Combined DNA Index System. In January, Waters was told that the DNA database had linked the profile to Jack, who was an inmate at the Lychner State Jail in Humble.

With a search warrant, Waters obtained a new DNA sample from Jack, and testing confirmed the match, Johnson said. A capital murder warrant was obtained Feb. 26.

“It’s my view that whoever killed this lady is still out there walking among us,” Ball said.

The DNA on the clothing only confirms that Jack had contact with Sterling — which he acknowledged — Ball said. It does not mean that Jack was responsible for her death, Ball said.

“It could be that he touched her or maybe he left his DNA somewhere else and it rubbed off on her clothing,” Ball said.

Sterling was last seen leaving her east Fort Worth home on foot about 10 p.m. 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., which she frequented.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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