Clifford Everell Reed, 59, of Victor, appeared before District Judge James Haynes in Hamilton on Tuesday. He refused to identify himself and signed court documents with an 'X,' the The Ravalli Republic reports.
Deputy Ravalli County Attorney Thorin Geist said the prosecuting attorney in King County, Wash., now will file a formal request to have Reed transferred to Washington. Meanwhile, Reed remains jailed on $5 million bail.
He is charged with killing Sandi Johnson, 28, who was a co-worker of Reed's at a car dealership.
When Johnson failed to show up for several appointments on April 25, 1996, her estranged husband called police. Days later, her car was found in a grocery store parking lot and her wallet was found at a hardware store parking lot.
Reed's neighbor said he saw Johnson's car parked outside his apartment building on April 26 and later saw Reed drive the car away alone, court records said. Reed's roommate told officers that after Johnson disappeared, Reed uncharacteristically vacuumed the apartment and cleaned the carpets with a rented carpet cleaner.
Court records say that before Johnson vanished, Reed had told friends that he had a relationship with her and they would eventually marry.
A childhood friend said Reed seemed distraught two weeks before Johnson disappeared because she had told him their relationship was "strictly friends only," court records said.
Johnson's skeletal remains were found in 2004 along a Washington highway.
An affidavit filed in King County did not indicate what new evidence had been discovered to reopen the case.
Ravalli County Undersheriff Perry Johnson said Tuesday that his department had been working with King County investigators for many years.
"This proves what can be done with a dedicated cold case that follows up on leads and conducts thorough investigations," said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. "The sheriff's office remains committed to finding ways to seek justice in murder cases, no matter how much time has passed."