Twelve years after 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa was killed outside her Vancouver high school, her ex-boyfriend has been arrested in the U.S.

Randhawa was on her lunch break when she was killed by a single shot to the head on Jan. 26, 1999.

After a search that lasted for more than a decade, Ninderjit Singh was arrested Friday in Riverside County, California. He faces a charge of first-degree murder in Randhawa's death.

"I can't remember when any announcement has ever given me more pleasure," Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke told reporters.

"Police always suspected the killer was Ninderjit Singh, a man she knew who had apparently been stalking her for years."

Investigators believe that Randhawa got into a car with Singh outside Sir Winston Churchill Secondary and then he allegedly drove her to a quiet street where her shot her and left her body.

A warrant was issued for his arrest just three days after the killing, but Singh had already flown to Los Angeles, where he has family.

In 2000, investigators staked out a San Jose apartment where he was believed to be living, but he apparently became aware of police presence and fled.

Since 2001, Vancouver police have offered a $10,000 reward for Singh's arrest. The search for the wanted man was outlined on the TV show America's Most Wanted in 1999, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security joined the hunt in 2008.

Police say they learned of the alias Singh was using just a few weeks ago. He was allegedly using a false social security number and working as a truck driver in Irvine, California.

But his appearance had changed so much it was hard to confirm that he was the same person who has been on the lam since 1999. The once-slender Singh had ballooned to 300 lbs., grown a beard and started wearing a turban.

"Today, he looks nothing like the 1998 photo seen in local media reports," Insp. Brad Desmarais said.

On Friday, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled over Singh's truck, issued a ticket, and took his fingerprints to verify his identity. He was arrested at his home later the same day and taken to jail in Los Angeles to await extradition.

In the time since he disappeared from Vancouver, Singh was married and now has two young children. His wife told police that she did not know his real name or that he was wanted for murder.

Desmarais says police believe that Singh's family in the U.S. and Canada has been helping him evade capture.

He estimates that the hunt for Singh has cost the Vancouver Police Department more than $500,000, but would not reveal the investigative techniques used to find the wanted man.

"It was an extraordinarily challenging investigation," Desmarais said. "The investigators in this matter were really thinking outside the box."

Randhawa's family is not speaking with reporters, but Desmarais described them as "relieved."

The family issued a statement Tuesday evening, saying they are "pleased" to hear of the arrest.

"We are forever grateful to the Vancouver Police for never giving up on us over the past 12 years. Thank you also to the American authorities for all their cooperation. We hope he will be extradited in a timely manner," the statement reads.