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Man imprisoned for Ala. murder arraigned in Boston for 1980 killing

This undated photograph released by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows inmate Steven Jerome Fike.Alabama Department of Corrections/Associated Press

A man who has been serving time for murder in an Alabama prison was arraigned Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court in connection with the 1980 rape and murder of 19-year-old Wendy Dansereau at a Boston hotel, officials said.

Steven Fike has been extradited to Boston from Alabama, where he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a 1982 rape and murder, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Fike was ordered held without bail at his arraignment, according to the statement. He is due back in court on Sept. 13, and his trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 5.

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“This is a case where preservation of evidence, diligent investigative work, and science have combined to bring a man into court for the death of young person who never got the chance to discover where life might lead her,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in the statement. “I hope her family and friends can find some comfort in knowing that someone will face justice for her death.”

Fike’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.

On the morning of March 18, 1980, Dansereau was found dead in a room at the Hotel Diplomat with a red blouse wrapped around her neck; she had been sexually assaulted and strangled, prosecutors said.

A DNA sample collected early in the investigation was later entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System and matched to Fike’s genetic profile, which was entered into the database following his conviction in Alabama, according to the statement.

Investigators believe that Fike met Dansereau, who had engaged in sex work, the night before her death and checked into the hotel with her while using a fake name, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors previously said that in addition to DNA and physical evidence, police reports place Fike in New England the day before Dansereau’s body was found.

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The Globe reported at the time of Dansereau’s death that she was found topless, lying face down beside a bed in the hotel room. The Worcester native’s father, William R. Dansereau, told the Globe in a report that ran the day after the murder that he couldn’t identify his daughter.

“I could not [identify her] because her face was so bloated by being strangled,” William Dansereau said at the time. “I haven’t seen her for a while and they can do it [identify her] through fingerprints.”

He added that his daughter was the second of his six children to suffer an untimely death — her brother William Jr. had died at the age of 21 after falling off a porch two years earlier.

Fike was convicted in November 1982 in the beating death of 20-year-old Patricia Ann Culp, whose body was found Feb. 2 of that year along Interstate 59 in Tuscaloosa County, the Globe previously reported. Culp was last seen entering a Birmingham, Ala., motel with a man on Jan. 30, and her car was found Feb. 2 in the parking lot of a different Birmingham motel.

An employee of the motel where Culp’s vehicle was discovered testified that he spotted Fike, who had scratch marks on his chest, changing clothes in a restroom.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.