Jean Zapata, mother of 3, disappeared from her home in 1976 during a divorce from her husband Eugene. No trace of her has been found.
But Madison Police spokesman Mike Hanson says detectives developed enough evidence over the past two years that led to Monday's arrest of her former husband, 67-year Eugene Zapata and a charge of murder.
The case was cold until a phone call in 2004. Jean Zapata's best friend, now living in Oklahoma, called a detective just to ask if anything new had been developed. She had no new information just a question. That got new detectives with new technologies curious and the entire department got involved trying to come up with new evidence.
According to the 26 page criminal complaint, cadaver dogs uncovered the scent of decomposing human remains in several locations connected to the suspect Eugene Zapata, but no body has been found.
Even so, Madison Police say they have the evidence needed to call the cold case closed.
Eugene Zapata was arrested in Nevada and will be extradited to Wisconsin for trial.