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Gilchrist County, Flordia, Sheriff's Office
Patrick Michael McCabe, 59.

SALT LAKE CITY — Sally Kadleck believed she would go to the grave without knowing the name of her daughter's killer.

"You don't really hold out much hope after all these years," said Kadleck, whose 16-year-old daughter, Sharon Schollmeyer, was found dead in her bathtub in Salt Lake City in 1977.

But Kadleck has renewed hope for closure after an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Patrick Michael McCabe, 59, of Bell, Florida, in connection with Schollmeyer's death. Police and prosecutors believe the nearly 40-year-old cold case involving the murder and rape of the Salt Lake teen has been solved.

The warrant states that McCabe is wanted for investigation of murder, aggravated burglary and rape, but formal criminal charges have not been filed against him.

McCabe, who served time in a Florida prison for a sexual offense against a minor in 1999, was interviewed in Florida and confessed to authorities, according to documents filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court.

McCabe is being held in jail in Florida. A $2 million arrest warrant and a motion to have McCabe extradited back to Utah were also filed Wednesday.

On Dec. 5, 1977, the 16-year-old was found dead in the bathtub in her apartment at 125 E. First Ave.

"She was in 6 inches of water. There was a gag in her mouth and a blindfold over her eyes," the arrest warrant states. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be "strangulation and suffocation."

Schollmeyer was discovered by Kadleck, who went to the apartment to check on her daughter after she did not show up for work. McCabe was the apartment manager and he let the mother into the apartment, according to the affidavit.

Kadleck still remembers the face of the man who let her inside just moments before the life-altering discovery.

"What kind of guts he had," Kadleck said Thursday. "I mean, really he knew what he had done and yet he went ahead and let me in."

Investigators say there were no signs of forced entry into the residence.

In 2013, the halter top that was used as the gag in Schollmeyer's mouth was submitted for DNA testing. In 2016, that DNA was submitted to a national sex offender database. In December, the database came up with a match on McCabe, the affidavit states.

McCabe told investigators that he left Utah two months after the rape and killing of the teenager and had not been back since, according to the warrant.

Kadleck said she feels confident in light of this week's arrest warrant that she'll gain the peace and closure that she went without for decades.

"I thought, 'How am I ever going to live my life not knowing how or why, or who or anything?' ...I'm glad it's happening," she said.

Contributing: Nicole Vowell, Ben Lockhart