Separated by protective glass from weeping loved ones, Robert A. Otteson reassured them with a smile and a wave. He raised no objections Thursday in a Hastings jailhouse courtroom to returning to Texas to face allegations that he murdered a man 31 years ago.
Otteson, 53, who for a quarter-century or more lived a family man’s existence in the Twin Cities while the killing of San Antonio businessman Frank Narvaez in a suburban Dallas hotel went unsolved, appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and a calm demeanor during the 10-minute proceeding in Dakota County.
Authorities in Texas now have 10 days to transport their defendant to Denton for prosecution.
Otteson was arrested Tuesday at his longtime Lakeville home, a few days after a Texas grand jury handed up an indictment alleging that he stabbed Narvaez, 42, in September 1983. Police say Otteson fled immediately to Oklahoma City, abandoned a car there and eventually settled in the Twin Cities.
Otteson and his wife raised two children while he worked for many years for Northwest Airlines on ground equipment and for the past five years with Xcel Energy as a mechanic.
Residents on the block told reporters this week they were shocked by the allegations and said only good things about their neighbor, whom they had spotted at times working on an engine or grilling meat in his driveway.
Late Wednesday, the Narvaez family issued a written statement, its first response to the arrest:
“We would like to thank the Denton, Texas, Police Department and the Texas Rangers for their tireless effort to help bring some measure of closure for our family.”
Texas authorities have not revealed how they were led 900-plus miles to Otteson. They said in a statement that “new leads were developed and evidence was discovered.” Police also have said nothing about a motive.
Otteson’s attorney for Thursday’s hearing, Tyler Bliss, declined Wednesday evening to address what Otteson’s family knew about events in Texas, saying, “As you can imagine, the wife in this situation is kind of gobsmacked.”