Pinole police announced a break in a missing child's case that has gripped the Bay Area since 1988.
Amber Swartz-Garcia was last seen skipping rope in the front yard of her family's Pinole home on June 3, 1988.
The case has been cold for years, but police announced at a 9 a.m. news conference Monday that Curtis Dean Anderson killed the little girl.
He confessed to the killing to FBI agents prior to his death 18 months ago. Pinole police said they have been investigating that confession ever since and were able to confirm today that it was true.
Authorities admit they have no physical evidence that links Anderson to the disappearance. But say they have concluded that the information Anderson told the FBI while in prison, as well as further circumstantial evidence gathered since, prove beyond a reasonable doubt he is her killer. For example, detectives established that he was known to hang around Pinole at the time of Amber's disappearance.
"This man is a convicted child molester a convicted murderer," FBI Special Agent Marty Parker said. "We have a signed confession. At some point you have to say 'We've done everything we can."
Anderson said he was driving from the Bay Area to his aunt's house in Arizona and decided to take a detour off the highway onto the street where Amber lived. He said he saw the little girl in her front yard and grabbed her and pulled her into his car.
He said he kept her drugged with root beer Schnapps.
Anderson said he killed her in a hotel room and stuffed her body in the trunk of his car. He said he tried to cross the border into Mexico, but border agents would not allow him to cross because he was too drunk.
Anderson said instead, he jumped the body in a remote area off Highway 10 while he was on his way to his aunt's ranch near Benson, Ariz.
An FBI profiler who was present during the Swartz-Garcia confession interview told investigators that Anderson was a true psychopath, Parker said, and that he showed "absolutely no remorse" for his crimes.
When asked how Anderson managed to avoid suspicion in Amber's abduction for so long, Parker said that Anderson was a "very smart, cunning man."
She said he was also a loner -- he never had anyone help him commit his crimes and he never told anyone what he had done, she said.
Amber's mother, Kim Swartz, said that she had hoped Anderson wasn't her daughter's killer.
"I know what he's done to her. I know what he's done to others," Swartz said.
She said that over the past 21 years since Amber's disappearance, many people have contacted her and given false confessions to killing Amber, all of which turned out to be false.
Swartz said she wished she had some piece of physical evidence that could prove that Anderson's confession is true.
"We'd hoped we would at least have something that we could bury with her father," Swartz said.
Amber's father, Pinole police Officer Flyod "Bernie" Harold Swartz, was fatally shot in 1980 while attempting to arrest a murder suspect, according to police. Kim Swartz was pregnant with Amber at the time.
The suspect, James Odle, was later arrested and sentenced to death.
Anderson died in 2007 while serving time for crimes including the murder of Xiana Fairchild.
Xiana was also 7 when she disappeared while walking to school in Vallejo in December 1999. Her partial remains were found in the Santa Cruz Mountains in January 2001.
Anderson later pleaded guilty to molesting and murdering Xiana. At the time of his death, he was also serving time for the 2000 kidnapping and sexual assault of an 8-year-old Vallejo girl who escaped.