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Suspect in 1992 slaying of Illinois teen arrested in California

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An elderly California man, long suspected in the unsolved killing of a Chicago-area youth 22 years ago, has been arrested in Los Angeles on a murder warrant from Illinois prosecutors, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney said on Thursday.

Robert Serritella, 71, is wanted in the slaying of 15-year-old David Chereck, who vanished on Jan. 1, 1992, on the way home from a bowling alley in Skokie, Illinois, and was found strangled with his own scarf the next day in a nearby wooded area.

Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney, said Serritella had been suspected of the killing by detectives who initially investigated the murder, but authorities lacked sufficient evidence to charge him until this week.

She said Serritella, an Illinois native who relocated to the West Coast years ago, had a relative to lived in Skokie and was seen in the Chicago suburb around the time of the boy's death, possibly at the bowling alley where the victim had been playing video games with friends.

Daly said the suspect had until recently been confined under house arrest in California on an unrelated sexual assault conviction, but she declined to say what new evidence in the Chereck case had come to light or how it was uncovered.

"Our agency approved an arrest warrant based on the evidence available at this time," she said. Serritella was arrested in Los Angeles on Monday.

He appeared on Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, waiving his right to challenge extradition back to Illinois, but his lawyer sought an additional warrant from the governor, a spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney said.

The spokesman, Greg Risling, said Serritella was ordered to return to court on Aug. 25, at which time Illinois prosecutors are expected to present the governor's warrant. In the meantime, he was ordered to remain held without bond.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Esther Chereck, the mother of the slain high school honors student, was aware that an arrest had been made, quoting her as saying, "The cold-case people have kept me informed." She declined further comment.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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