Racine police Chief Art Howell announced Friday evening that the U.S. Marshals office arrested a suspect for the 1994 shooting death of Andre McKinstry.
John Clay, 45 – no relation to local football star Johnny Clay – was found in Chicago and taken into custody Thursday by the U.S. Marshals Office.
“Through the combined effort of Racine Police Department investigative personnel and members of the District Attorney’s office, a warrant was issued for John Clay for the homicide of Mr. McKinstry,” Howell said in a written statement. “We would like to thank the members of the community who assisted police investigators in bringing this matter to a successful resolution after 21 years.”
Howell wasn’t willing to comment further because the investigation is ongoing, but he did say Clay and McKinstry knew each other, and they got into a confrontation.
“Clay has been a person of interest for many years, and we have just recently been able to move to the level where we could get a warrant,” he added. “We’re excited to bring a measure of closure to the family because after so many years, families understandably lose hope. We still have some work to do, but we’re happy to have reached this point.”
On August 14, 1994, officers responded to the 1200 block of 16th Street was a report of a shooting inside the Steve & Bs tavern. When police arrived they found McKinstry suffering from a fatal gunshot wound. Investigators hit a dead end after following multiple leads, and McKinstry’s case went cold.
In 2009, though, McKinstry’s murder investigation was revived – along with other unsolved homicides dating back as far as 1970 – and a variety of factors like eyewitness testimony helped lead to Clay’s identification and location.
A $100,000 warrant for first degree intentional homicide was issued on Oct. 19 for Clay’s arrest, according to online court records. He has not yet been booked into the Racine County Jail.
Howell did confirm that extradition proceedings are underway and how fast Clay is in custody in Racine depends on if he fights extradition. If Clay doesn’t offer any resistance, he could be booked as early as next week.
“We never stop looking at these cases, and we hope that offers the public and the victims some hope,” he stated.