Michael Allan Halgren faces 17 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder in the April 23, 1980, death of 19 year-old Susan Barbara Lowe.
"There is a special satisfaction when we can solve a murder more than three decades old using modern forensic science," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a Thursday news release.
Bellevue police say DNA evidence led King County prosecutors to file the murder charge against Halgren. The 58-year-old was arrested last year at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center, where he was being held after being found to be a sexually violent predator.
Investigators say Halgren's DNA was found at the murder scene but all investigative leads were exhausted in the early 1980s. Then Halgren's DNA profile was obtained as part of an updating process in 2012 that included a number of civilly committed sexually violent predators at the special commitment center near Tacoma.
Halgren's criminal history includes a 1989 kidnapping and rape of a woman in Bellevue.
If he is ever released from prison, Halgren would be returned to the special commitment center, according to prosecutors.