Police Say Cold Case Is Cracked After More Than 40 Years

After nearly 40 years, police say the cold case of a young boy's homicide has been solved and INSIDE EDITION talks to the family of the victim about their long journey to obtain justice.

Debbie tells INSIDE EDITION about her brother, who was brutally killed more than 40 years ago when he was just 15 years old.

"It's really hard. It's been a long time and this brings everything back. He was a fun loving kid. A good boy too," said Debbie.

His name was John McCabe, and since 1969 his unsolved homicide has been deep in the cold case police files in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

Despite the passage of time, his dad, William McCabe, refused to rest until justice was done.

INSIDE EDITION's Paul Boyd asked, "You never gave up hope that your son's killers would be brought to justice?"

"Never. Never gave up hope," said William.

And now suddenly, out of the blue, there has been an incredible turn of events.

Police say a 59-year-old retired Air Force master sergeant named Edward Brown has come forward and confessed to his part in the crime, implicating two other men, Walter Shelley and Michael Ferreira. Authorities say Brown's confession was triggered by an attack of conscience.

The three graying men were just boys when they allegedly went after John McCabe.

The last night of John's life began at a teenage dance. He was walking home along a road when suddenly, he was grabbed and pulled into a car.

Police say they beat up John McCabe inside the car and he screamed, "Let me go!" so they put tape over his mouth and eyes. They tied rope over his ankles, wrists and neck to the point where he stopped breathing. They dumped his body in an empty lot and the three men reportedly made a pact that they'd never tell anyone about what happened that night.

According to cops, the pact held for more than 40 years. They say the suspects targeted John to teach him a lesson for flirting with one of the suspect's girlfriend at the dance.

And there's another stunner in the case. It turns out that two of the suspects actually attended the wake for John McCabe, signing their names in the book for mourners.

"When I that found out, I was shocked," said Debbie.

There is justice at last for the McCabe family. But it's bittersweet at best, because it won't bring John back.

"His life was just beginning. He missed all that, and that's not fair," said John's mother.

All three suspects have pled not guilty.