AIKEN - In the two years since the death of Jessica Carpenter, a flier seeking help in finding the killer has remained in the window of Diane Rutherfurd's downtown restaurant.
"I felt like if I took it down, it was over. It was going to stay up forever as far I was concerned," said Ms. Rutherford, the co-owner of The Stoplight Deli.
She was just one of many Aiken-area residents whose hearts went out to the Carpenters, who had lived in Crosland Park but moved after the attack.
Jessica's parents, Charlie and Judy, said they couldn't live with bad memories tainting their once-happy home.
But good news came to Crosland Park on Friday as neighbors learned about the DNA match of a suspect in the slaying. The response from residents was joy and relief.
Bruce Rienzo, the president of the Crosland Park Neighborhood Association, said his group has been waiting for this announcement for a while.
"(The slaying) sent a lot of chills through this neighborhood for a long, long time," he said. "Nobody here has forgotten about it."
Neighbors of the empty Carpenter house in Brentwood Place said they also were glad to hear the news of the arrest.
"Everybody thought (the slaying) was appalling," said Robert Peeples, 54, who has lived in Brentwood for 25 years. "I think everyone will be equally satisfied they've made an arrest."
Mr. Rienzo pointed out that the neighborhood, the Carpenter family and other well-wishers gathered just four weeks ago to mark the two-year anniversary of Jessica's death.
A donated magnolia tree was planted in a neighborhood park. A plaque also was ordered, and Mr. Rienzo said he called Jessica's mother Thursday to tell her it had been installed the same day.
"It's unreal how all of this has unraveled in the last two to three weeks," he said.
Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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