SHAFTSBURY, Vt. — A man in a California prison is being charged in the 1986 strangling of a Vermont golf pro after DNA tests linked hair strands that had been found in suspect’s car to the victim, police said Monday.

David Allan Morrison, 52, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah Hunter, 36, who disappeared in September 1986. The Manchester woman’s body was found two months later.

Vermont State Police Lt. Tim Oliver said Monday that Morrison was a top suspect in Hunter’s death immediately after her strangulation, but investigators at that time couldn’t find the evidence needed to charge him.

Prosecutors now plan to return Morrison to Vermont to face the first-degree murder charges. The process could take several months.

“We need to close this case out for the sake of the family and for the sake of justice,” Oliver said following a news conference at the Shaftsbury state police barracks, where the charges were announced.

Over the years, investigators thought Hunter’s killing could be linked to other unsolved killings in the region. Oliver said police were trying to determine whether Morrison could be connected to any other cases.

Morrison left Vermont in January 1988. Later that year, he was arrested, and he eventually pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder, sexual assault and kidnapping in a case in Chula Vista, Calif.

Oliver said there were similarities between the California case and Hunter’s killing.

“He had a pattern. Obviously this is something we’re looking at,” Oliver said.

Police in Vermont took a renewed interest in Hunter’s killing in 2009 after Morrison made statements to police in Union City, Calif. Oliver wouldn’t say what Morrison said to California investigators.

Morrison’s abandoned car was seized by police in 1988. Evidence from the car was re-analyzed, and police matched hair found in the car to Hunter by comparing it to DNA from Hunter’s sister.

The evidence connected Hunter to Morrison’s car.

At the time of her disappearance on Sept. 19, 1986, Hunter was the pro at the Manchester Country Club. Her body was found two months later in a field in Pawlet, about 30 miles north of Shaftsbury.

Hunter’s car was found not far from a gas station where Morrison was working on the night she disappeared.

Since Hunter’s death, the country club has held an annual tournament named after her.

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