WORCESTER, Mass. — A 65-year-old Fitchburg man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for killing a woman almost four decades ago.

Prosecutors said Ronald Dame had been a suspect in the January 1974 death of 23-year-old Clara Provost, but wasn’t charged until 2006 when new tests found his DNA under her fingernails.

The Telegram & Gazette reports a Worcester Superior Court jury convicted Dame Friday. He is facing a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

Prosecutors said Dame went to Provost’s home intending to sexually assault her. She was found partially clad with her throat slashed and her head jammed between the mattress and headboard of her bed. Police said they found scratches on Dame’s face when they questioned him the day her body was found.

Dame testified he was visiting his late sister when Provost was killed, and his young niece scratched his face as they played.

“We’re very happy and relieved,” said Provost’s sister, Cindy Hastings, after the verdict was returned. Ms. Hastings testified as a witness in the case and sat through the remainder of the trial.

“Thirty-eight years is a long time, but finally it’s here,” she said.