BOISE -- Police say a Boise family's long wait for justice is over.

In 1998, the rape and murder of Kay Lynn Jackson gripped this entire community. Kay Lynn was on her way to church on Palm Sunday.

Police worked to find her killer, following more than 1,000 leads, even to other states and countries. But nothing led them to a suspect.

Still, when KTVB talked to Kay Lynn's friends years ago, they hadn't given up hope. I have a feeling that some day that DNA evidence is going to pop up, said Pastor Bruce Young in 2007. It's going to be a match and that criminal will be behind bars.

That's exactly what happened last month.

We all have been waiting 15 years for this day, said Boise Police Deputy Chief Pete Ritter at a press conference on Wednesday, as police and prosecutors announced the break in the case. Patrick Jon Zacharias, 40, has been charged with rape and murder in the first degree in the death of Kay Lynn Jackson.

Zacharias made an appearance in court Wednesday, but had already been serving a life sentence in prison for lewd conduct with a minor. He was a DNA match with a sample taken on the scene 15 years ago. The lead detective in the case never took Kay Lynn's files off his desk.

To Kay Lynn's family, said Ritter. We say thank you for your trust in us that this day would come.

And on this day, Kay Lynn's family gave thanks that they may finally be brought some closure. On April 5th, 1998, our lives would change forever, said Evelyn Jackson, Kay Lynn's mom. We would like to thank the Boise Police Department for their continuous service these past 15 years to solve the case against our beloved Kay Lynn Jackson. Being a Christian, she attended church every Sunday. Her faith in God has kept us going these past years. We want to thank our family, friends and community for their support over the years.

Evelyn was joined by her husband Terry and Kay Lynn's sister Jennifer Lay at today's press conference.

Zacharias has another court date this Friday, where he may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

The maximum sentence for first degree murder in Idaho is life in prison, unless prosecutors seek the death penalty. They say they haven't decided if they'll do that yet.

More on that crime that put Zacharias in prison for life. Police say in 2007, he broke into a home, and tried to force himself on an 11-year-old girl. She got away, ran to a neighbor, who called police. Judge Cheri Copsey said she believed Zacharias would, Offend until the end. Which is why she sentenced him to life in prison.

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