An aspiring actress has helped police track down a suspect in her father’s 1986 slaying.
Periodically, during the past few years, Joselyn Martinez would try to find information about the man accused of shooting and killing her father outside his restaurant on Nov. 22, 1986, when she was nine years old.
Beginning in 2006, she trolled Myspace and Facebook for information. In 2011, she wrote a letter to the TV show America’s Most Wanted. Through it all, she spent her own money, dishing out payments of US$69.99 to various online search programs that turn up potential addresses and telephone numbers for people.
And on Friday, her efforts were vindicated when police arrested Justo Santos on charges he murdered her father, Jose Martinez, outside his Dominican restaurant in the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood 27 years ago.
“It’s amazing,” Joselyn Martinez, 36, said on Tuesday. “I didn’t plan for this. It’s been surreal.”
Police said Santos, whose arrest in Miami was first reported by the Daily News, has made statements implicating himself in the killing.
On Tuesday, Santos agreed to let police return him to New York later. He was in police custody on Tuesday and was not available for comment. There was no information on whether he had an attorney.
Witnesses to the 1986 killing said they had seen Santos, and he was quickly named by detectives as a suspect, but he fled to the Dominican Republic shortly after.
Joselyn Martinez, who has appeared in Spanish-language music videos, radio commercials and a video game and wants to be in TV shows and movies, said there was “no plan” in her search efforts over the years.
“It was totally, absolutely in my eyes, totally random,” she said.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that Santos, 43, had been jailed in the Dominican Republic in an unrelated case about two years after the Jose Martinez killing, but served just more than a year before he was released. Kelly said Martinez’s case was closed upon news of Santos’ incarceration in the Dominican Republic — something that should never have happened.
“They should not have closed the case,” Kelly said.
Joselyn Martinez said in February she met with detectives from a cold-case squad to turn over all the information she’d uncovered, including Santos’ name, address and telephone number in Miami.