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

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A man wanted in the 1984 murder of a Florida woman has been arrested in California nearly four decades later, authorities said Thursday.

Detectives from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were traveling to San Diego County to interview Donald Michael Santini, who was being held in jail following his arrest on 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 strangulation death of 33-year-old Cynthia Ruth Wood of Bradenton, south of Tampa.

Wood’s body was found in a watery ditch three days after she went missing on June 6 of that year. The arrest warrant says a medical examiner determined she had been strangled and Santini’s fingerprints were found on her body, WFTS-TV reported.

“We are aware of this arrest and have sent detectives to interview Santini, pending 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 jail records indicate Santini, 65, was arrested as a fugitive. He was scheduled to appear in San Diego County Court on Friday. The filings contained no list of attorneys for Santini who could speak on his behalf.

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