SKOWHEGAN — A 55-year-old man charged with murdering a young woman more than three decades ago in a small central Maine town is back in jail after his initial court appearance.

Jay Mercier of Industry entered a plea of not guilty today in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan. He was charged last week in the death of 20-year-old Rita St. Peter, whose battered body was found near the side of a road in Anson on July 5, 1980.

Police say it is the oldest murder case in Maine in which an arrest has been made.

After the hearing, Mercier was returned to the Somerset County Jail, where he’s being held without bail. John Alsop, one of his attorneys, said he doesn’t know what evidence police hold against Mercier.