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Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Man charged in killing of prostitute in 1988

Seattle Times staff reporter

A man already serving prison time for burglary, rape and assault was charged yesterday with murder in the 1988 killing of a young prostitute, after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

King County prosecutors filed murder charges against Joseph Glen Tice, 47, in the shooting death of 17-year-old Ophelia McKnight, who was last seen in downtown Seattle on Jan. 5, 1988.

McKnight's body was found about a month later in Montlake Park. An autopsy revealed that she had been shot.

Shortly after McKnight's body was found, Tice was accused of shooting a prostitute he had picked up on Yesler Way, prosecutors say.

That woman survived and was able to identify Tice as her attacker, according to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court.

Tice was convicted of third-degree assault and a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act in connection with that shooting, and his parole for the earlier offenses was revoked, court documents say. Because of those convictions, he has remained in the state prison system since 1988.

Court documents say that DNA evidence preserved from McKnight's body was submitted to the state crime lab in 2003.

When Seattle cold-case detectives approached Tice in prison to talk about his earlier shooting conviction and to obtain a new DNA sample from him, he appeared "uncomfortable," charging papers say.

Three days after the visit from detectives, Tice attempted to commit suicide, telling fellow inmates and a health-care provider that "DNA got him," according to court documents.

A $1 million bail has been set against the possibility of Tice's release. He is to be arraigned on the murder charge April 11.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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