Shelby police arrested Donald Borders Dec. 28 in connection with the rape and murder of 79-year-old Margaret Tessneer. Borders was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape and felony breaking and entering.
Tessneer was found dead inside her home on Sept. 20, 2003. Her phone line was ripped out and her door was unlocked.
A grand jury indicted Borders on charges of rape and breaking into Tessneer's home earlier this week, but postponed indictment on charges of murder.
Cleveland County District Attorney Rick Shaffer dropped the murder charge against 50-year-old Borders Wednesday.
Shaffer said he dismissed the charge to avoid a probable cause hearing.
He added that he will go back to the grand jury as soon as Feb. 8 with new information, again seeking Borders' indictment on the charge of murder.
Two similar deaths happened in Shelby within months of Tessneer's. Lottie Ledford, 85, was found dead in her home on Aug. 23, 2003. Police found the body of Lillian Mullinax, 87, in her home on Nov. 10, 2003. In both cases, the phone lines were cut.
Until recently, police did not have the evidence they needed to rule the any of the deaths homicides.
They have not said what led to Borders' arrest.
A definitive link between the three deaths has still not been established. When 50-year-old Borders was charged in connection to Tessneer's death, Shelby police indicated that they would revisit the two other cases.
Because of the first-degree murder charge, Borders was being held in jail without bond. The dismissal means he will likely be given a bond and may be able to get out of jail.