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Man admits stabbing woman to death in '94

A 54-year-old man admitted Tuesday that he murdered a woman whose body was found stuffed into a nightstand in a backyard in 1994.

James Fountain pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 29-year-old Cynthia Epps, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

Fountain faces up to 25 years to life in prison when sentenced July 13 by Erie County Judge Michael D'Amico.

Fountain reported finding the body of Epps, of Colfax Street, next to a garage at 142 Montana St. at about 9 a.m. June 30, 1994.

Her body was wrapped in a green blanket.

Epps, a 29-year-old mother of two young daughters, suffered several stab wounds to her upper body and was nearly decapitated, Sedita said.

Fountain cooperated in the initial police investigation. Neither he nor anyone else was charged at that time.

The Buffalo Police Department's Cold Case Unit, however, reopened the case in 2010.

At the time, Fountain was confined in the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy following an attempted rape conviction in 1996. He had been placed in indefinite civil confinement after he had completed his lengthy prison sentence on the attempted rape and other charges. A state law required him to submit a DNA sample to the statewide database.

Authorities used his sample to link him to Epps' murder, Sedita said.

His DNA matched the DNA profile of sperm from the victim's vaginal swabs, the district attorney said.

After police confronted him with the DNA results and questioned him again, he eventually confessed.

Fountain admitted that he tried to sever her head and right leg as a way to more easily dispose of her body, Sedita said.