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"Dreadlock Rapist" charged in woman's 1981 murder

The brief, tragic story was tucked into the Oct. 3, 1981 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times: “N. Sider Found Slain.”

Carol Novak, the story said, was repeatedly stabbed. A friend found her body in the dining room. They were going to drive together to the Loop where Novak worked as a secretary.

The friend told police the rear door of Novak’s home in the 5800 block of North Paulina was closed, but unlocked.

Novak’s dog was stabbed, too, according to the short item.

For more than 33 years, Novak’s murder remained a mystery with no follow-up news.

But on Friday, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced the suspected killer was Eugene Booker, the “dreadlock rapist,” who’s been locked up since 1987 for a yearlong spree of sexual assaults in North Side apartment buildings.

Novak, 35, was sexually assaulted before she was stabbed more than 50 times in her back, right side, neck and right eye, Alvarez revealed.

In 2013, Chicago Police detectives reopened Novak’s cold case. They sent preserved evidence from the murder scene for testing. DNA from blood on Novak’s jacket, as well as evidence from the sexual assault, matched Booker’s DNA, prosecutors said Friday.

Booker, 59, who is serving an 80-year prison sentence, has a court hearing in the Novak murder on Dec. 11.

Booker initially denied the murder when detectives interviewed him in prison, but he eventually cracked, saying “You can’t fight DNA” and “I’m definitely sorry about what happened to her,” said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Alvarez.