2 charged with murder 18 years later.

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Byline: Lee Hammel

WORCESTER - Eighteen years to the day after Kevin Harkins disappeared, two men were arrested yesterday and charged with his murder.

Elias A. Samia, 45, was arrested yesterday afternoon at his home at 78 Arlington St. and charged with the murder of Mr. Harkins, 36, whose body has never been located. Mr. Samia will be arraigned today in Worcester Superior Court.

Also arrested yesterday in Mr. Harkins' disappearance Feb. 15, 1994, was John R. Fredette, who now lives in Maine, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. Mr. Fredette is to be arraigned today on a fugitive from justice charge.

Mr. Fredette will be brought to Worcester unless he fights rendition from Maine.

Mr. Early credited the Worcester Police Department and its unresolved case squad, the state police assigned to his office, Millbury police, the U.S. marshal's taskforce in Portland, Maine, the South Portland Police Department, and the Maine State Police for bringing to conclusion the case.

Mr. Early said he could not give more details last night, but will hold a press conference today on the Harkins murder.

Alan Thorpe, a cousin of Mr. Harkins, said yesterday he was "elated. It's like a dream." He recalled seeing Mr. Samia in a restaurant about five years ago and thought how unfair it was that he was still walking around.

Mr. Thorpe referred to two lieutenants who retired from the Worcester Police Department and said, "You've got to remember this Tim O'Connor and Bobby Rich, they're the guys who never gave up on this. They never let this case go.

"It was a murder. It was a mystery, and it's still a mystery. But to have people in custody 18 years later, I'm elated about it."

Karen Ramirez, Mr. Harkins' sister, said "I never did think" there would be arrests in the case "but you always hope."

Mr. Rich, who had been a police detective before his retirement, said that he and Mr. O'Connor contributed to yesterday's result "to a minor degree. The guys that are still there are doing the hard work."

With yesterday's arrests, "I felt very good. It's been a joint effort that's gone on for a long time," the former detective commander said.

Without a body being found, Mr. Harkins was finally declared dead in Worcester Probate and Family Court Feb. 29, 2008. At that time, Mr. O'Connor said, "We never gave up on it and we told the family we weren't going to give up on it and we're still moving ahead."

The mystery of Mr. Harkins began when he was called out...

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