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Texas man arrested in 1992 Victorville killing

January 17, 2012 |  9:10 am

Steven SylvesterA homeless man from Texas who eluded authorities for nearly 20 years was arrested last week in the slaying of a 52-year-old Victorville man in 1992.

Steven Sylvester was extradited to San Bernardino County on Saturday and is being held on $1 million bail. He is accused of killing Robert Dennis, 52, in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 1992.

Dennis’ mother found him dead in his home in the 13200 block of High Desert Road. Homicide detectives found no signs of forced entry, but items from the home and Dennis’ Subaru station wagon were missing, according to a statement released Tuesday by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Sylvester became the top suspect after homicide detectives found pictures of him with Dennis, taken days before the murder, in Dennis’ bedroom.

At the time, Sylvester was a known transient from Texas and already had run-ins with police in San Bernardino County. Sylvester fled the area after the killing and, with detectives unable to locate him, the case went unsolved.

In 2010, the Sheriff’s Department's cold-case unit reopened the investigation and tracked down Sylvester to Shamrock, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where he was living in and out of homeless shelters.

Local police contacted shelters, asking them to be on the lookout for the suspect, sheriff’s officials said. Sylvester was recently spotted in a shelter near Amarillo, Texas, and on Wednesday he was taken into custody by local police.

Sheriff’s detectives interviewed the suspect the following day and he “gave information tying him to Robert’s murder,’’ sheriff’s officials said.

Sylvester, 57, was arrested on suspicion of murder. He remains in custody at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Steven Sylvester. Credit: San Bernardino Sheriff's Department