James Alan Horton's sister said she is reliving the pain of her brother's death all over again after learning the 22-year-old sailor was sexually assaulted before he was shot to death and left in a ditch near Summerville in 1992.
Karen Coy, Horton's 45-year-old sister, said she and other family members were never told about the sexual assault in numerous telephone calls with investigators over the years.
"It just feels like today is the day he died again," Coy said Wednesday in a phone interview from her Lexington County home. "We didn't know he was sexually assaulted. That really hurt my mom. For 17 years no one told us that."
The news hit the family as authorities in New York arrested and charged a second suspect with murder in connection with Horton's death.
Thomas Solheim, 53, of Montauk, N.Y., was arrested by local police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a statement released by police in Suffolk County, N.Y.
Authorities said Solheim was arrested while walking near his mother's house. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, but the hearing was postponed after he started having seizures, a Suffolk County police spokesman said.
Solheim's arrest came several days after Charles Andrew Welty was arrested and charged with murder in Missoula, Mont.
Welty admitted to investigators that he and co-defendants beat and sexually assaulted Horton before shooting him once in the chest, according to an affidavit charging Welty with murder.
NCIS agents have not returned calls seeking more information about the investigation. It was unclear Wednesday if more suspects would be arrested.
Agents in November said there were hopeful advancements in DNA technology might help solve the cold case, but it is unclear if that is what led agents to Welty, who according to his boss was an upstanding member of his community and a valued employee before his arrest.
Horton was stationed at the Charleston Naval Base while serving on the ocean minesweeper Exultant. His family said he had been in the Navy for five years and had signed on for five more years just before his death.
Coy said she was home in Sherburne, N.Y., during his last visit there before returning to Charleston. She said she found it odd that he seemed reluctant to return to his job.
"We could sense there was a reason he didn't want to go back," she said.
To this day, she doesn't know why.
"He was dedicated to the Navy," she said. "He loved it."
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