CASTRO VALLEY -- Decades after their father was stabbed to death and left on the side of a road in Castro Valley, Stephen Rudiger's children finally received news they had long awaited.

Investigators at long last had suspects in custody for the slaying of Stephen Rudiger nearly 23 years ago.

Rudiger's three daughters, two siblings and former wife were on hand Tuesday morning when Alameda County Sheriff's Office authorities announced they had arrested two suspects in the 1990 killing: the man's ex-wife and her then-husband.

Police said 58-year-old Cheryl Ann Drace of San Leandro and 50-year-old William Joseph DeVincenzi will be charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances that will make them eligible for the death penalty. Both were being held at the Santa Rita Jail without bail and were expected to enter pleas by Wednesday, authorities said.

Stephen Rudiger’s daughter Tami Borja wipes away tears during a press conference held at Alameda County Sheriff’s Office of Homeland Security
Stephen Rudiger's daughter Tami Borja wipes away tears during a press conference held at Alameda County Sheriff's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services in Dublin, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. The Alameda County Sheriff's cold case unit announced arrests in the 1990 killing of Stephen Rudiger, whose body was found in Castro Valley on Redwood Road 23 years ago. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group) (Dan Honda)

"We're pretty overwhelmed at the moment," Tami Borja, 44, Stephen Rudiger's oldest daughter, said while fighting back tears. "It's very surreal. It's not like somebody can tell you what to expect when this happens. We've waited a long, long time. ... You never can give up hope. Ever."

Said Rudiger's former wife, Marie: "I was pretty much speechless, and anybody who knows me will tell you that's a rarity for me. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my body."

Drace, who authorities said was using her maiden name of Ervin, was arrested Nov. 21 in front of her San Leandro home. DeVincenzi was arrested Nov. 22 while in custody in a Victorville prison on a robbery charge, according to Sheriff's Office Det. Greg Landeros, lead investigator on the case.

In contrast to the accusations against her, Oakland attorney Demetrius Costy said his client, Drace, is a church-going Bay Area native, long-time nurse, and caregiver for her sick mother. He said she has never been arrested and has no criminal record.

"I think unfortunately in their effort to resolve an old case, they cast their net so broad it got someone tangled up in the net that shouldn't be there,'' he said, adding that Drace is not a "murderer"

It was unclear Tuesday if DeVincenzi has an attorney.

The case had gone cold until 2010, when authorities said they received information that Rudiger was killed in his home, not in the park, which moved the jurisdiction from the East Bay Regional Park District police to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities didn't go into much detail about what finally cracked the case. But Landeros said investigators combined old evidence and newly gathered evidence and, using current technology, linked the slaying by using DNA to Drace and DeVincenzi. The FBI also helped process the evidence, authorities said.

"Even without the DNA, we believe we have sufficient evidence to show that these two were responsible," he said.

Family of Stephen Rudiger, Janet Ferreira, far left, sister; Marie Thuloweit, Rudiger’s first wife; Tami Borja, daughter; and Brandi Rudiger, far
Family of Stephen Rudiger, Janet Ferreira, far left, sister; Marie Thuloweit, Rudiger's first wife; Tami Borja, daughter; and Brandi Rudiger, far right, daughter, hug following a press conference held at Alameda County Sheriff's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services in Dublin, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. The Alameda County Sheriff's cold case unit announced arrests in the 1990 killing of Stephen Rudiger, whose body was found in Castro Valley on Redwood Road 23 years ago. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group) (Dan Honda)

A Boston resident with a checkered past, DeVincenzi became one of the FBI's best witnesses in the federal witness program after striking a deal with prosecutors for a 1983 armed robbery in which a security guard died, according to The Boston Globe. But in 2011, DeVincenzi was arrested and later sentenced to more than 17 years for two armed bank robberies committed with phony pipe bombs, the Globe reported.

Rudiger's body was found Dec. 28, 1990, by a passing motorist on an embankment on Redwood Road at the entrance to the campgrounds at Chabot Regional Park. At the time, he and Drace were divorced but still living together while litigation was pending on the Castro Valley home the two owned and were planning to sell, Landeros said. The relationship between the two was "tumultuous," Landeros said. At some point during that time, Drace began a pen-pal relationship with DeVincenzi that turned romantic, he said.

"It appears that the motive was financial gain," Landeros said, adding that "we have sufficient evidence to believe they did plot this."

Landeros said that shortly before the killing, DeVincenzi had moved into the home. During that time, the two drove to Reno and were married, he said.

Rudiger, who would now be 66, has eight grandchildren. He was a foreman at an auto body shop in Oakland where, according to his brother, Joe, he was a sheet metal expert.

"I can't describe what we're feeling," Borja said. "Finally! That's all I can say. Finally!"

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH. Contact David DeBolt in Oakland at 510-208-6455 and follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.