A Texas man who allegedly killed a 17-year-old Boyle Heights girl in 1996 was in custody Wednesday after DNA evidence connected him to the crime, authorities said.
Jose Luis Garcia, 42, of Dallas, was arrested in September in the death of Gladys Arellano, whose partially clothed body was discovered at the bottom of a ravine in the Topanga Canyon area of Malibu on Jan. 30, 1996, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Local news from across Southern California
“Thank you for not giving up on our Gladys,” said niece Samantha Moreno as she thanked investigators at a Wednesday news conference. "She had a beautiful soul. She had such big dreams for her life.
"It was extremely painful for all of us to lose her and live through 24 1/2 years and not know who killed her."
Arellano would have been 42 on Saturday, her niece said.
The results of an autopsy concluded the Boyle Heights teen was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled to death, a sheriff's department statement said. A DNA profile created with evidence collected at the scene was uploaded into state and federal DNA databases.
“Although an extensive investigation was conducted, no match was identified through the DNA databases and the case remained unsolved,'' the statement said.
In November 2019, Garcia was arrested by Los Angeles police officers on suspicion of domestic assault, and a DNA sample from him was collected and loaded into a state database. Based on the match to the 1996 slaying, Garcia was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Service task force in Dallas on Sept. 29.
He was extradited to California a week ago, and was arraigned in Van Nuys on Monday on a charge of murder, the sheriff's department reported.