Joe Anthony Barber arrested for 1984 killing of Rachel Cox

Joe Anthony Barber.

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Joe Anthony Barber was arraigned Wednesday and charged with rape and murder from nearly 30 years ago.

Authorities say that on New Year’s Day 1984, 43-year-old Rachel Cox was found, hands bound, stabbed a dozen times in her third floor apartment on 6th Street southeast.

They saved evidence in a rape kit and then, earlier this year, entered it into the national DNA database and got a hit.

"A swab is taken and there's a DNA match with the person who's in the system,” says MPD Assistant Chief Patrick Burke.

Barber was in the system because later in 1984, Barber abducted and raped a 10-year-old girl from Martin Luther King Elementary School, right across the street from the other victim's complex.

He went to prison for 19 years for that crime, released in 2004.

Now, if convicted, the 55-year-old Barber be facing time for the cold case of Cox.

"It really is a great demonstration of perseverance,” D.C. mayor Vincent Gray says.

Gray on Wednesday singled the police out for praise, as did longtime residents of the neighborhood where the murder occurred.

"I think it's remarkable fantastic, they never gave up, they're out there on the job," says resident Lew Fleming.

None of Cox's family members came to court. Prosecutors are in touch with them, but apparently it was too painful.