Finally, a charge in cold-case murder of Sandi Johnson

SEATTLE -- Emotions filled a King County courtroom Thursday morning as friends and family members saw the suspect in a cold case murder for the first time in more than a dozen years.

It was a day family and friends of murder victim Sandi Johnson thought might never come. They faced Clifford Reed -- the man accused of killing their daughter, mother and friend -- as he faced a judge.

It was a Friday in April 1996 when Johnson left to go shop for a birthday gift for her then-5-year-old son, according to police.

She never made it to Bellevue Square, however, and her body was found years later by state Department of Transportation workers along Highway 410.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Reed. They were sure they got the right guy, but King County prosecutors said there wasn't sufficient evidence to file murder charges. As a result, deputies had no choices but to release Reed.

Now the cold case unit says it has enough to convict Reed.

On Thursday, Johnson's father was overwhelmed with emotions.

"It's just been so long," said Kenneth Gilbert, "16 years."

Read entered a not guilty plea.

This case could be the cold case unit's last due to budget cuts.