OKLAHOMA CITY - A convicted killer has been charged with first-degree murder after a DNA match linked him to a 2001 cold case murder of an Oklahoma City woman.

According to court documents, on Thursday, Willie Lewis Hayden Jr., 42, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Vera Louise Gowers.

Gowers was found dead near the railroad tracks in the 1700 block of S.W. 14th Street on Halloween night in 2001. Police said she had been raped. A Medical Examiner ruled her death as a homicide, and that she died of blunt force trauma to the facial area.

Authorities examined vaginal swabs from the victim and obtained a full DNA profile viable for comparison from an unknown male suspect. On June 30, 2015, authorities confirmed that the DNA obtained from the victim’s vaginal swab matched Hayden’s DNA.

Investigators then spoke with Hayden, but he denied killing Gowers. He did say he used to live and hang out near the scene of the murder, and that he smoked and sold crack cocaine a block away from where the victim was found. He said he couldn't remember the last contact he had with the victim.  

According to court documents, less than five months of Gowers’ murder, Hayden assaulted and murdered another woman in Dallas, Texas. That victim was beaten in the face and stabbed. In 2003, Hayden was convicted of murder to intentionally cause death in Dallas and sent to prison.

In 2015, Hayden was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon in Tulsa County. During that crime, police said Hayden beat a woman in the head and stabbed her with a broke liquor bottle. He is currently serving time in the James Crabtree Corrections Center for that crime.