Police make arrest in 1985 cold case

January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Mountain View police have made an arrest in a 28-year-old cold case. Daniel Garcia is suspected of killing Saba Girmai in 1985. She was found strangled inside a supermarket dumpster in Mountain View.

It appears the victim tried to defend herself as she was being attacked nearly 30 years ago and by having done so, investigators say they were finally able to track down the man who killed her.

Investigators say it was the DNA left on Girmai's fingernails that ultimately led them to her killer. The body of the 21 year old was found in a dumpster behind Safeway on North Shoreline Boulevard in 1985. Twenty-eight years later, police finally got a DNA match.

"If you scratch someone, whether you're trying to defend yourself or in any sort of a struggle, there's a good chance that that person's skin cells will wind up under your fingernails and that is as good as a fingerprint in identifying somebody," said Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office and Mountain View police say the DNA hit led them to 53-year-old Daniel Garcia of Fresno. Officers arrested him on suspicion of murder on Friday after questioning him the day before.

"His statement certainly was consistent with what we believe happened in the case and gave us more information that allowed us to make this arrest," said Kajani.

Investigators have revisited this cold case over the years, but it was only recently that advances in technology helped workers at the Santa Clara District Attorney's crime lab develop a DNA profile from Girmai's fingernails. An expanded DNA internet database of convicted felons also helped find a match.

For Girmai's family, this long-awaited arrest in this decades-long murder case has brought a huge sense of relief.

"The family was thrilled when they were notified by our sergeant. They were happy it brought them closure, so it's a good thing to do," said Mountain View Police Sgt. Sean Thompson.

Garcia is being held on $2 million bail. He did not enter a plea during his arrangement on Monday. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Feb. 5th.


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