Florida Man Arrested Nearly Four Decades Following Cold Case Murder In California

A Florida man wanted in connection with the 1984 murder of a 33-year-old woman was apprehended by authorities in California.

Donald Michael Santini, 33, was arrested in San Diego, California on June 7 for the strangulation death of 33-year-old Cynthia Ruth Wood in Hillsborough County, Florida in 1984. Wood’s body was discovered in a drainage ditch.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the arrest warrant stated that a medical examiner decided she had been strangled and that Santini’s fingerprints were located on the body.

Santini was the last person observed leaving the 33-year-old’s house in 1984, according to the authorities. Ruth’s body was found by authorities on June 9, 1984.

“The suspect has not been seen since this incident and may be in the state of Texas using an unknown identity,” the sheriff’s office notes in an “Unsolved Homicides” page, noting that Santini was a suspect in the 39-year-old cold case.

Santini hid out in California for a while before being apprehended, using an alias during that time.

An arrest warrant acquired by WFLA states that during Santini’s 39 years of hiding, he used the aliases Charles Michael Stevens, Donald Chapman, and John Trimble.

Santini’s fingerprints were allegedly found on Wood’s body, as stated in the warrant acquired by WFTS of Tampa.

With the “technology of today,” detectives were able to reopen the cold case, according to a statement released by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Because of the arrest, the case is once again open, and modern technology can be used to reexamine the evidence gathered in 1984.

On Friday, June 9th, Santini appeared in San Diego County Court to face extradition to Florida.




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