A 46-year-old man suspected of killing a man inside a SeaTac motel room almost 30 years ago was arrested Tuesday in Florida.

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A Florida man was arrested Tuesday in connection with a fatal stabbing at a motel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1983.

John Wayne Folds was charged Monday in King County Superior Court with the slaying of Frank Kouny, a 36-year-old San Francisco man who was visiting Seattle on business. Authorities said Folds was recently linked to the slaying through DNA.

Folds was 19 when authorities say he went to a Motel 6 with Kouny, an interior designer he had just met on a flight from San Francisco to Seattle. People on the overnight flight said they saw Kouny socializing with several men on the plane before heading to a car-rental counter with a young man, according to charging documents released Tuesday.

Kouny was alone when he checked into the Motel 6, 18900 47th Ave. South, at 3:45 a.m. Feb. 15, 1983. Six hours later a housekeeper found him slain on the floor of his room, King County sheriff’s Detective Scott Tompkins wrote in a police report.

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Kouny had stab wounds to his chest, neck and face. His wallet and rental-car keys were found tucked between the mattress, possibly to avoid being robbed, Tompkins wrote in his report.

When sheriff’s detectives contacted Kouny’s family in San Francisco, they didn’t know whom he might have been traveling with. Kouny’s sister said he had left San Francisco to attend a gift show in Seattle where he was to display items, charges said.

In the early 1980s airlines did not keep detailed flight manifests listing the complete names of passengers, Tompkins wrote in his report.

The case went cold until Nov. 10, when Tompkins received a call from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab saying it had matched Folds’ DNA to that found on Kouny and on cigarette butts in the motel room.

Folds’ DNA was listed in a national criminal database because of a 2002 conviction in Pinellas County, Fla. for burglary, according to court records.

In recent weeks, Tompkins looked over the original flight manifest and found that a man named “Mr. J. Folds” had paid cash for a one-way ticket from Los Angeles, where the flight originated, to Seattle.

Before arresting Folds in Florida, Tompkins compared photos from Folds’ arrest in 1984 for possessing or selling a switchblade knife in Santa Ana, Calif., with a sketch created from witness accounts of the man seen with Kouny at the car-rental counter.

Folds was booked into the Pasco County Jail, in Land O’ Lakes, Fla., on Tuesday. The King County Prosecutor’s Office is seeking his extradition to Seattle.

Folds was arrested at home as he and his wife were preparing to leave for the day, authorities said.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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