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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Decades after the brutal shooting death of a woman in her Coral Gables home, authorities say they’ve cracked the cold case and made an arrest.

In August 1977, 23-year-old Debra Clark was found brutally beaten and shot to death in her apartment. For nearly 40 years, suspect Alan Bregman, now 75, had escaped prosecution.

Now he’s behind bars.

As Bregman was being flown from North Carolina to Miami International Airport and taken to TGK Correctional Center, Clark’s brother spoke to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, saying he never gave up hope that an arrest would one day be made.

“I’m very very excited that Debbie’s going to have justice shortly,” said Brian Pantola, who added that justice delayed does not always mean justice denied.

Pantola said he’s grateful Miami-Dade Police have finally arrested Bregman, charging him with taking Clark’s life.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Pantola. “There have been many decades of darkness.”

Bregman, a retired Boca Raton real estate agent, was taken into custody on August 4th at a home he recently moved to in Macon County, North Carolina after authorities received a call.

“We were simply contacted by Miami-Dade law enforcement and just acted on the information that they provided us,” said Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland.

In a coincidental twist of fate, Bregman’s arrest came 39 years to the day that Clark’s body was found dead in her South Miami townhouse.

Clark was a nurse at Coral Gables Hospital who wanted to enroll in law school.

“She was everything that you would want in a sister and loved and cared about,” said Pantola. “We had many great memories in the short years that we had together. She was a great, great person. Her life was snuffed out way too early.”

Police said Bregman, who was married, was having an affair with Clark and spent time in the home where she was found. They said he also filed an insurance claim under her name.

Detectives reopened the case in 2014 and said they found Bregman’s fingerprints on a sliding glass door and ash tray at Clark’s apartment — an ash try believed to have been used in the attack.

“It’s hurt that it’s taken so long,” Pantola admitted. “He’s gotten to live his whole life but I am grateful for this arrest after so many years, so many prayers. And so many other families don’t get to experience that and my heart goes out to them.”

He credits the detectives who worked on the case as being “phenomenal.”

Bregman’s attorney, Barry Wax, told CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald that his client was not involved in Clark’s death and isn’t surprised Bregman’s DNA was found at her home because he was a regular visitor.

Peter D'Oench

  1. he was having an affair with her, so of course his DNA would be in her home. this is a weak case