Her family clapped from the gallery of a Boone County circuit courtroom Thursday as Special Judge David Melcher rendered his verdict in the bench trial of Raymond Clutter.
"It has been a long time, and it has been hard at time," said Casey's sister, Tense Wilson, "but I thank the Lord that justice has prevailed today."
She said it meant everything to the family that Casey's disappearance on Easter weekend 1994 was not forgotten.
Melcher spent 22 days reviewing the evidence presented during the trial before rendering his verdict. He also found Clutter guilty of tampering with physical evidence but not guilty of rape.
The 62-year-old Clutter, who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for sodomizing the daughter of his ex-girlfriend, faces an additional 20-to-50-year or life sentence when Melcher sentences him Aug. 20.
Clutter, wearing khakis, an open-collar shirt and sports jacket, showed no emption - a characteristic he showed throughout the trial. The former strip club owner was a reported millionaire who once kept an alligator and tiger as pets at his sprawling brick ranch on U.S. 42 in Warsaw.
A break in the case came in 2000 when Clutter tried to cut a deal to shorten a 10-year federal sentence for trying to hire someone to kill his ex-girlfriend and for evading taxes. Clutter told authorities his friend Paul "Tony" White killed Casey.
When White was interviewed by Boone County Sheriff's Detective Todd Kenner, who has since retired, he admitted to helping dismember Casey's body and dumping the parts in the Ohio counties of Miami, Clark and Champaign.
But he said it was Clutter who slit Casey's throat with a Ginsu knife to cover up the fact that he raped her.
"This verdict just absolutely made my day," Kenner said. "Hopefully, this gives the family the closure they need to move on. This has just been horrible. Sixteen years waiting - and now it's finally done. We got the bad man behind bars."
With no physical evidence that Clutter killed Casey, the prosecutor's case hinged on White's credibility on the stand. He testified despite having no plea agreement in exchange for his testimony.
White still faces charges of rape, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse..
The trial was punctuated with graphic details of the killing. A serial strangler, now serving a life sentence in Ohio, was even called to the stand to refute a defense claim that he killed Casey.
Clutter's attorney, Jason Gilbert, accused Boone Commonwealth’s Attorney Linda Tally Smith at trial of trying to bring rumor and innuendo about Clutter's sordid life into evidence to influence the judge.
Others called to testify were Clutter's ex-lover, bar regulars and employees of strip clubs.
"This is the stuff that nightmares are made of and stuff horror movies are made of," Smith said of the facts of the case. "People don't realize that this stuff happens on a regular basis."
Smith said Clutter's son Floyd also participated in disposing of the body. The son was killed 11 years ago in Indiana before authorities gathered enough evidence to charge him.
Smith implied at trial Clutter may have arraigned the killing of his own son.