PORT ARTHUR -- Police say that they have solved the 21-year-old double slaying of a woman and her daughter, an announcement that has brought relief to the family of the victims.
Police said Friday that Tommy Lee Stewart was responsible for the Sept. 11, 1986, double slaying of Myrtle Hudson and her daughter, Willette Hudson.
Police chief Mark Blanton said DNA evidence linked Stewart to the crimes. And Stewart, already serving a life sentence for a sexual assault conviction, confessed to the killings on Jan. 4 and told authorities where they could find Myrtle Hudson's body.
Stewart is currently being held at the Stiles Unit, a prison in Jefferson County. Authorities say he will not be prosecuted for the Hudson murders, since he's already serving a life sentence.Some members of the Hudson family wore green T-shirts bearing pictures of Myrtle and Willette to a news conference where police released their findings.
"I feel great," said Willie Hudson Sr., who was once a suspect in the deaths of his wife and daughter. "Words can't even express. I'm at peace."
The three remaining Hudson children -- Willie Jr., 38; Isha, 30; and Meagan, 21 -- also attended the news conference, along with more than 20 relatives.
"That day changed my life," said a tearful Willie Hudson Jr., who discovered his 18-year-old sister's body hog-tied in the attic. He was 17 at the time.
"I haven't been able to take a step forward," he said, "until now."
Myrtle Hudson's body has not yet been found, but Blanton said that last month Stewart led them to an area where he recalled leaving her on Pleasure Island.
Stewart had a violent history long before the murders. On Oct. 21, 1971, in Waco he was charged in the death of Jean Carolyn Matthews, whose home he was accused of burglarizing before he abducted and killed her. He was released from prison on June 6, 1986, and moved in with a Port Arthur woman he'd met while incarcerated.
The woman's brother, James Brown, lived next door to the Hudsons and said Stewart was often at his house.
On Nov. 6, less than two months after the murders, Stewart was arrested for sexually assaulting and attempting to kill a juvenile female he had left for dead on Pleasure Island. The girl had been hog-tied and struck in the head, but she survived and identified Stewart as the assailant. Stewart has been jailed since November 1986.
The Hudson slayings, meanwhile, remained unsolved. In 2000, the case was assigned to Detective Ron Robertson and Detective Rodney Harrison for review. DNA samples taken from Willette Hudson's clothes linked Stewart to the murders.
A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman said Stewart could not be made available for comment on Saturday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.
"The family can move forward with unity," said Isha Hudson.
The Hudsons said they've forgiven Stewart, although they're still left wondering about his motive for the killings.
"There's no sense in being mad anymore," said Donald Vincent Green, Myrtle's brother.