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Convicted murderer charged in Eldon girl’s death

Prosecutors announced new charges Tuesday for one man accused of a mid-Missouri girl’s murder more than 30 years ago. One count of capital murder was filed Monday in Miller County against Martin Priest. He is currently serving a life sentence for an unrelated murder case in Kansas.

The victim, only identified by her initials ‘T.R.’ in court documents, was last seen by her mother after leaving her home heading for high school in Eldon on May 16, 1984.

ABC 17 News talked to family members for previous stories who identified her as 15 year-old Tammy Rothganger. Priest was the live-in boyfriend of Tammy’s mother.

A witness went to the Bass Pro Shop convenience store with Tammy that morning. She claims Priest and an underage boy, D.N., picked up Tammy and drove away from the intersection of Pine and First streets. That was the last time she ever saw Tammy.

D.N. claims Priest hit Tammy in the head with a wrench, then raped and strangled her. They went to a local home and hid her body before returning at night to bury her body in an unmarked spot.

Based on ABC 17 News’ prior reporting, searches for Tammy’s body have proved unsuccessful, including a pond that was drained in Vernon County. Police had a good idea about who the suspect was, but he was already behind bars for another murder at that point.

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