Willoughby was being held at the Lewis and Clark County jail in Helena on felony charges unrelated to the homicide.
The charges included failing to give notice as a sexual or violent offender
to local authorities upon moving to an area. Willoughby also was charged with failing to appear in court.
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brian Ketterhagen said Willoughby lived in Daniel in central Sublette County at the time of the slaying and was an acquaintance of Ehlers’
Ketterhagen said he interviewed Willoughby in Helena last week, before he was jailed.
The initial investigation went cold and remained unsolved despite being reopened by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation in the mid-1990s, according to the sheriff’s office.
Ketterhagen said Sheriff Wayne Bardin asked him to reopen the case last fall. Ketterhagen said the new investigation took thousands of hours and involved interviewing witnesses in four states.
Sgt. K.C. Lehr, an investigator with the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, told the Jackson Hole News&Guide in June 2007 that investigators took blood samples from Ehlers in 1984
that have been used in the ongoing investigation. He said investigators also lifted fingerprints from Ehlers’ car.
“Technology is so much more advanced now than it was in 1984,” Lehr told the paper. “We didn’t have DNA tests then and now it’s so prevalent in murder cases.”
Ehlers, a newlywed, was killed just days before her 26th birthday
. Passers-by on Highway 191 found her dead next to her car. Authorities estimated she had been dead about five minutes.
Three witnesses reported seeing two white men standing over a body
at the time of Ehlers’ death. They were driving a “dark sedan.”
Ehlers had $500 in cash on her for the trip. Her car was full of her personal possessions and nothing seemed to be missing. There was no evidence she had been assaulted.