Suspect charged in 1998 murder of 13-year-old

Charges were filed Friday against an inmate long suspected in the murder of a 13-year-old girl who went missing in Fort Ord in 1998, Monterey County prosecutors said.

Charles Holifield, 56, has been charged with murder with special circumstances of kidnapping and lewd acts on a child as well as kidnapping for the purposes of rape of a child under age 14.

Holifield’s prior convictions, the fact that he is a habitual sex offender and the infliction of great bodily injury are considered special circumstances in his charges, Monterey County Assistant District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said.

Prosecutors anticipate that Holifield’s arraignment will be held on May 9 in Salinas and, though he will be eligible, prosecutors will not decide whether to pursue the death penalty until his preliminary hearing.

Christina Williams went missing on June 12, 1998 when she took her family dog for a walk at Fort Ord, where she and her Navy family lived in military housing.

Within an hour, Christina’s mother saw the dog wandering alone near the family’s home, with its leash still attached.

A $100,000 reward was made available during the nationally publicized search that took place over the next seven months.

On Jan. 12, 1999, Christina’s body was found on the grounds of a University of California nature preserve, 3 miles from her home.

Holifield has been incarcerated at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla since 1999 on a third-strike sentence for attempted kidnapping and threatening a woman in September 1998. He’s serving 25 years to life for that crime, Pacioni said.

According to Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo, Holifield has been a suspect “almost from the beginning” and has been interviewed by law enforcement, but new DNA testing of specific crime scene items made prosecutors believe they finally had sufficient evidence to file charges.