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Husband arrested in 1981 cold case; reality TV show credited

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Posted at 1:55 PM, Nov 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-04 13:55:00-05

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. -- Authorities say a reality TV show helped lead to an arrest in connection with the 1981 disappearance of a missing Florida woman.

Investigators held a news conference at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Monday to announce that 72-year-old Merl Mackey was indicted by a Levy County grand jury in September on a charge of first-degree murder after the November 1981 disappearance of his wife, Evelyn "Laverne" Mackey.

Detective George Loydgren says the case broke after Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis invited TNT's "Cold Justice" to look at the case.

The show flew investigators to interview Merl Mackey in Texas earlier this year. During that time, Loydgren says, Mackey made admissions to being responsible for his wife's death.

Mackey was arrested in New Mexico in September. It's unclear whether he has an attorney to contact for comment on the case.