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updated: 7/24/2014 7:21 PM

Man held in 1992 strangling death of Niles West student

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Associated Press

More than two decades after the strangling death of a Niles West High School student, a 71-year-old man was arrested in California in connection with the case, authorities in Cook County said Thursday.

Robert Serritella was arrested Monday in Los Angeles County on a warrant issued by Cook County, said Cook County sheriff's spokeswoman Sophia Ansari. Serritella, who appeared in court there on Thursday, won't fight extradition to Illinois. Another hearing was set for Aug. 25.

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The arrest was first reported by WLS-TV in Chicago. Cook County investigators told the news station it took years of work to gather enough evidence to press charges.

The mother of 15-year-old victim David Chereck told the Chicago Sun-Times she got a call Wednesday from Cook County cold case investigators. Esther Chereck said she was "absolutely" relieved to hear the news about the arrest of a suspect in the 22-year-old case.

"I can't tell you very much. I'm just in limbo," Chereck told the newspaper.

David Chereck was last seen walking home from a bowling alley in Skokie around 10:15 p.m. on New Year's Day 1992. He was about two blocks from his house when his friends last saw him.

His body, without the coat and shoes he'd been wearing, was found the next day in a forest preserve. He had been strangled with a scarf.

Serritella is in custody in Los Angeles County. It wasn't immediately clear if he has an attorney.

WLS-TV interviewed Serritella in 1998. In that interview, Serritella said he was driving and stopped his car when he saw a boy wave. "I looked in my rearview mirror and there was another white car, similar to mine, that this boy jumped into," Serritella told the news station in 1998. "And as he jumped in, then I took off and they took off, and they passed me."

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