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Man charged with murder held after 20 years on run

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TOM COYNE | February 14, 2011 07:51 PM EST | AP

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HAMILTON, Ind. — A man who disappeared from Indiana shortly after a romantic rival was fatally stabbed awaits extradition to the United States on a murder charge, after his two decades on the run ended abruptly at an airport in India.

Mahfuz Huq was arrested in New Delhi on Thursday on a provisional arrest request made by the United States, the Justice Department said. Little is known about how Huq spent the past 20 years, and authorities in the United States and in India are providing few details about his arrest or his activities.

Authorities said Huq, a Bangladesh native, fled the U.S. in 1989 after 19-year-old Todd Kelley was attacked from behind and killed in his bedroom. The case has been featured on the television programs "Unsolved Mysteries" and "America's Most Wanted."

Indiana State Police Detective Kevin Smith, who started working on the case in 1999 and got more intensely involved in 2005, said he was able to help track Huq down through old-fashioned police work and a little luck.

Smith said he long suspected Huq was in Bangladesh, but found out for certain about a year ago by searching public records. He said he made two requests through the Justice Department for Bangladesh to extradite Huq, but that nation's government didn't respond.

"So when we actually found him, we just decided, no sense asking again, we'll just see if we can figure out where he's traveling to and when he does, hopefully it will be a place we can extradite him from," Smith said. "It just worked out perfectly."

Smith said he can't disclose how he knew Huq would be traveling to India because it could reveal a source who helped with the capture.

"He could have avoided being caught if he basically crawled in his hole and pulled it in after him," said Don Shively, who was Steuben County prosecutor at the time Kelley was killed. "But he didn't do that. It sounded like he got overconfident and attempted to travel and got picked up."

The Justice Department says the United States has 60 days from the date of arrest to submit an extradition request. Steuben County prosecutor Mike Hess said his office will be ready to prosecute if Huq is returned.

Huq, now 44, was charged with murder two weeks after Kelley's death. At the time, Huq already was accused of threatening to kill anyone who dated his former girlfriend, Christine Mutzfeld.

According to court documents from 1989, Huq was facing a felony charge of intimidation filed three weeks before Kelley was killed for allegedly saying that if he found out Mutzfeld was dating anyone else, he would kill the new boyfriend and then kill her.

Kelley and Mutzfeld had been high school sweethearts, said Kelley's father, Vern. They had broken up when she went to college, but Mutzfeld had been back in touch with Kelley, his father said. Vern Kelley said Huq had threatened his son, warning him not to go out with Mutzfeld. Kelley told his son not to worry about it.

"He said, 'No, he's pretty serious about this,'" Kelley said.

Kelley offered to let his son stay with him, but Todd Kelley turned down the offer. Kelley said his son was excited to go out with Mutzfeld again.

Mutzfeld could not be reached for comment this week. Kelley's father said she moved out of state. Telephone numbers for her in Florida have been disconnected.

In court documents, police said Huq left the CTS Electronics in Elkhart where he worked early on the day before Kelley's death. Co-workers told investigators he "appeared to be very withdrawn or depressed," and he didn't show up for work again.

Police said Mutzfeld was in Kelley's home in Hamilton, about 30 miles northeast of Fort Wayne, until about 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1989. An autopsy showed Kelley died of multiple stab wounds, including one through the heart. Police said it appeared the killer hid in a bathroom next to Kelley's bedroom and attacked him from behind.

Authorities said they believed Huq waited outside the home, saying they found cigarette butts that matched his brand outside. A woman who knew Huq also spotted him walking toward the town of Hamilton hours before Kelley was killed.

On the day Kelley was killed, police said, Huq transferred all the money in his savings account into his checking account and wrote checks to family members that emptied the account.

A day later, according to court documents, Huq went to the U.S. Customs Office in Chicago and obtained a replacement for his expired passport. A Customs agent also told state police that Huq bought a plane ticket to Mexico City the next day, but never showed up for the flight.

Authorities say Huq wrote a letter to his father, in a letter postmarked in Chicago that day, apologizing for bringing shame on his family and telling them they would not see him "for a very long time."

The case shocked Hamilton, a town of about 1,500 residents where many homes are crowded around Hamilton Lake and the population swells on weekends in the spring and summer as people visit their cottages.

Jan Myers, a lifelong Hamilton resident who was a friend of Kelley's mother, Pam, who died two years ago, said she is ecstatic to know an arrest was made.

"I didn't think it would ever happen," she said. "But at the same time I'm sad because it doesn't make our lives better here because Todd is still gone."

Kelley's father said it was frustrating waiting for Huq's arrest while thinking about all of life's milestones his son missed out on. He thinks about not getting to see his son marry and about his son not getting to be a father.

"You have to have a lot of patience. You have to have a lot of resolve," he said, adding, "I just hope that some form of justice will be served here."