Fugitive suspect in 1984 Florida murder arrested 39 years later in California


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A man wanted in connection with the 1984 killing of a Florida woman was arrested in California nearly four decades later, authorities said Thursday.

Investigators from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office traveled to San Diego County to question Donald Michael Santini, who was being held in jail following his arrest Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Santini had been on the run since June 1984, when Florida authorities obtained an arrest warrant linking him to the strangled death of 33-year-old Cynthia Ruth Wood of Bradenton, south of Tampa.

Wood’s body was found in a moat three days after her disappearance on June 6 of the same year.

The warrant said a coroner found she had been strangled and that Santini’s fingerprints were found on her body. WFTS TV reported.

“We are aware of this arrest and have dispatched law enforcement officers to question Santini while we await his extradition,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “This arrest allows us to re-examine the evidence collected in 1984 using today’s technology, as the case is now considered open again.”

Online prison records show Santini, 65, was arrested as a fugitive.

He was scheduled to appear in court in San Diego County on Friday.

There was no listing in the filings of an attorney for Santini who could speak on his behalf.

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