BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Police are seeking a longtime suspect on a murder charge in the 1983 fatal shooting of a University of Colorado student.

An arrest warrant for Thayne Smika, 51, was issued by a judge in December and unsealed Thursday, Boulder police said. He is wanted in the shooting death of Sid Wells, who was dating the daughter of actor-director Robert Redford.

Police said Smika has been at large since he disappeared from the Boulder area in 1986 and that he might have fled the country. He is wanted on a first-degree murder charge, and his bail was set at $5 million.

Smika has been the prime suspect in Wells’ death in his Boulder condominium.

“We are asking for the public’s assistance in determining the individual’s current location so that we can bring him back to Colorado to be held accountable for the death of Sid Wells,” Police Chief Mark Beckner said.

wells murder case21 Boulder Police Get Arrest Warrant For 83 Slaying

Sid Wells (credit: CBS)

Smika, who was living in Wells’ apartment, is accused of shooting Wells on Aug. 1, 1983, with a single blast to the back of the head with a 20-gauge shotgun. Police said Smika, who was often late with rent, was supposed to pay Wells that afternoon.

Smika was arrested in the killing but wasn’t charged. A grand jury failed to indict him, and two previous Boulder County district attorneys declined to prosecute.

Current prosecutor Stan Garnett said investigators now have enough evidence to charge Smika.

wells murder case1 Boulder Police Get Arrest Warrant For 83 Slaying

Thayne Smika (credit: CBS)

Wells’ mother, June Menger, who lives in Longmont, said she was very happy to learn about the arrest warrant.

“It’s definitely a step forward that we’ve been waiting for years,” Menger told the Daily Camera. “We’ve always felt he was the one, but to get an arrest warrant is a big deal.”

Wells was 22 and entering his senior year when he died.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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