By Melissa Garcia

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Police have arrested the alleged killer of a young woman from Colorado Springs 30 years after her murder. Officers discovered the body of Mary Lynn Vialpando, 24, in an alleyway behind Colorado Avenue on June 5, 1988.

Crime scene of Mary Lynn Vialpando’s murder in 1988. (credit: CBS)

Officials said Vialpando been sexually assaulted and beaten to death. Three decades later, police arrested James Papol, 46, on a charge of first degree murder.

James Papol (credit: CBS)

Papol was just 15-years-old at the time of the murder, police said.

“She was beautiful,” said Cynthia Renkel, Vialpando’s sister.

Renkel said she had never heard of the man accused of killing her sister.

Cynthia Renkel (credit: CBS)

“I was shocked at his age more than anything,” Renkel said.

In the years since the gruesome death, Papol has faced a slew of charges for other crimes, including kidnapping, robbery and harassment.

Were she still alive today, Vialpando would be in her 50’s. Her then-young daughter is now grown up.

Mary Lynn Vialpando (credit: CBS)

Renkel said while the arrest does not erase her pain, it does help to ease it.

(credit: CBS)

“I don’t know what closure feels like. I can’t imagine I will ever have closure, but we will see what happens in the future. I have some relief,” Renkel said.

Papol is behind bars without bond.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to


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