KEY POINTS

  • Johnny Yenshaw, of Detroit, was arrested and charged in connection with the death of Sonya Dockery
  • Dockery was found with strangulation marks and lacerations on her neck on Dec. 1, 1997
  • Authorities found DNA evidence under the victim's fingernails

A 51-year-old Michigan man has been charged with the murder of a 33-year-old woman that occurred more than two decades ago.

On Friday, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Johnny Yenshaw, of Detroit, was charged with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the 1997 strangulation death of Sonya Dockery, also a Detroit resident, Detroit News reported.

Yenshaw was arrested after authorities found DNA evidence linking him to the case, the prosecutor’s office said.

"Mr. Yenshaw’s DNA is supposedly discovered now, so he’s being charged," Magistrate Malaika Ramsey-Heath was quoted as saying by Fox 2 Detroit.

Dockery was found unresponsive by Detroit police on Dec. 1, 1997, in the area of James Couzens Service Drive and Sussex Street. Police said she had strangulation marks and lacerations on her neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Attorney Carin Goldfarb, of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, said Dockery was allegedly a sex worker, according to investigators.

"Yes, she may have engaged in sex with men, but she died and somebody killed her," Magistrate Ramsey-Heath said.

"The level of DNA under her fingernails is really significant … we're talking about a struggle, that’s a significant DNA from the defendant under her fingernails,” said Goldfarb.

Yenshaw’s DNA was also found on petroleum jelly located right next to the victim, the prosecutor’s office said.

Yenshaw's attorney requested bond for the accused, pointing out his clean record. “We are requesting a personal bond even though it is a homicide case. We can ask for a tether, but this incident happened in 1997 and he’s had no contact or convictions since 1998," the attorney said.

However, the request was denied.

"There’s enough to cause me to believe there’s a significant amount of evidence in this case that I need to remand to protect the community and I’m going to do so at this time," said Ramsey-Heath.

Yenshaw was arraigned and remanded to jail Friday in 36th District Court. His probable cause conference is scheduled for April 18, and the preliminary examination is scheduled for April 25 before Judge Kenneth King.

Dockery's family, particularly her son Jonathan Curry, was relieved over the new development in her case. Curry was only 2 years old when she died.

"I didn't think I'd ever see the day my mom's murderer got put away, ever," he told Fox 2 Detroit.

"You spend 25 years wishing you could have a mother to say Happy Mother's Day, or happy birthday to you, or just so many Christmases, so many things I never got to share with my mother," Curry said.

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Representative image Credit: Pixabay
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