Credit: Courtesy of Penobscot County Jail

Maine State Police arrested a Stetson man Wednesday for the 1986 murder and sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Norwalk, Connecticut, marking a key development in a cold case investigators have tried to solve for more than 32 years.

Marc Karun, 53, was arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant as he left his residence at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Norwalk Police Department. The warrant was connected to the murder and sexual assault of Kathleen Flynn on Sept. 23, 1986.

Police in Connecticut have been investigating the case since Kathleen Flynn disappeared on her walk home from Ponus Ridge Middle School. When the sixth grader did not arrive home at the normal time of 3:15 p.m. that day, her mother drove to the school and searched for her to no avail. She reported her daughter missing at 5:12 that afternoon, according to a description of the case shared in 2016.

Friends contacted by police said they last saw Kathleen Flynn a few minutes after the end of the school day heading toward a path by the school’s tennis courts that she often used to walk home. Eventually, a search team located Kathleen’s body in the woods about 100 feet from the path. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.

The case captivated the public’s attention in Norwalk and sent fear through the community.

“I think a lot of people were scared by it, as far as it was so off the normal reality to have this happen to a school child walking home in the afternoon,” Norwalk police Lt. Arthur Weisgerber told ABC 7 of New York in 2016.

Betty McGowen, a teacher at Ponus Ridge Middle School when Kathleen Flynn went missing, described the time of the girl’s disappearance as “just a very, very sad day.

“We arrived in the morning and police cars all over, and they just did not know and they never did know,” McGowen told the Connecticut Post on Thursday.

In 2016, the Norwalk Police Department said it hoped recent advancements in DNA technology would lead investigators to the perpetrator.

No information was available Thursday on what led investigators to Karun and his home in Stetson.

Karun is a lifetime registrant on Maine’s sex offender registry for a 1989 sexual assault conviction in Connecticut. He was convicted Aug. 18, 1989 — nearly three years after Kathleen Flynn’s murder and sexual assault — in Norwalk Superior Court. He served 10 years in prison, followed by five years of probation, according to the registry.

He was also convicted on felony burglary and larceny charges in Connecticut in 1997, the Connecticut Post reported.

A background check in Maine turned up no criminal history in the state.

Karun’s arrest on Wednesday occurred while Weisgerber and Norwalk police Sgt. Alex Tolnay were in Bangor to execute the murder and sexual assault warrant, according to the Norwalk Police Department.

Around noon Thursday, a member of the Maine State Police used yellow crime scene tape to block the entrance of the suspect’s Coboro Road home while the agency collected evidence at the residence, which is not visible from the main road and sits beyond a bend of a long driveway that cuts through thick woods.

“We wish to thank the Norwalk Police Department for bringing Kathleen’s murderer to justice,” Flynn’s family said in a statement. “This continues to be a very difficult time for us, and we do not wish to make any further comments.”

Karun’s parents purchased the property in Stetson on behalf of the trust in their son’s name in 2002, according to Penobscot County records, although Catherine Fisher, the town registrar, said on Wednesday that Karun moved to Stetson in 2013.

Karun was raised in Norwalk, Connecticut, and continued living in the city of 86,000 until at least 2011. He is also listed as having Connecticut residences in Manchester, Rocky Hill and Shelton before moving to Maine, the Post reported.

Karun is currently at the Penobscot County Jail until his terms of extradition are determined.

He will have a bail hearing at 1 p.m. Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.

BDN writer Callie Ferguson contributed to this report. Information from the Connecticut Post was also used in this report. See the Connecticut Post’s story on Karun’s arrest.