Florida Man Wanted for Murder Captured in California After 39 Years
Donald Michael Santini,64, was arrested in the cold case murder of Cynthia Ruth Wood, 33, of Bradenton, who was found strangled to death 39 years ago in Florida.
Authorities in San Diego, California, arrested Donald Michael Santini on Wednesday, June 7, for the 1984 killing of Cynthia Ruth Wood, a 33-year-old woman whose body was found in a drainage ditch after she’d been strangled in Hillsborough County, Florida.
An arrest warrant obtained by local outlet WFLA says that Santini went by the aliases of Charles Michael Stevens, Donald Chapman, and John Trimble during his 39 years of hiding.
According to police, Cynthia Ruth Wood was the last person seen leaving the 33-year-old’s residence in 1984. On June 9, 1984, police discovered her corpse. Hillsborough County Sherif’s Office
Florida authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Santini around a week later, and he has been on the run ever since.
Santini also had at least 13 aliases and a history of previous convictions, the newspaper said, including an aggravated robbery at a Texan convenience store in 1983, after which he disappeared from the state days later.
“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.
Donald Michael SANTINI was arrested by Deputies of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force in Campo, CA. SANTINI was wanted in Hillsborough County, FL for the murder of Cynthia Ruth Wood in 1984. SANTINI was featured multiple times on America's Most Wanted #fugitive #USMarshals pic.twitter.com/p4kXeLJvAW
— USMS San Diego (@USMSSanDiego) June 12, 2023
— The Sun (@LuffyRd5) June 11, 2023
According to the warrant obtained by Tampa-based WFTS, Santini’s fingerprints were found on Wood’s body.
In a statement, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the “technology of today” helped detectives open the cold case back up.
“This arrest allows us to reexamine evidence collected in 1984 using the technology of today, as the case is now considered open once again.”
Santini appeared in San Diego County Court on Friday, June 9, and awaits extradition to Florida.
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