U.S. : Southern California man charged with two murders in 1981

A South­ern Cal­i­for­nia man has been charged with mur­der­ing two women in 1981, pros­e­cu­tors said Thurs­day, accord­ing to DNA evidence.

Oxnard’s Tony Gar­cia, 68, appeared in court, but his arraign­ment was post­poned until Feb­ru­ary 23, the Ven­tu­ra Coun­ty Dis­trict Attor­ney’s Office said in a statement.

It was not imme­di­ate­ly clear whether he had a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing him.

Gar­cia, a Navy vet­er­an and for­mer mar­tial arts teacher, is accused of kid­nap­ping, rap­ing, and stran­gling Rachel Zen­de­jas, 20, in Camar­il­lo in Jan­u­ary 1981 and stran­gling Lisa Gon­dok, 21, in Oxnard in Decem­ber 1981. indicted.

Zen­de­jas said he was found dead in his Camar­il­lo car garage and Gondek was found dead in a bath­tub after the fire in his Oxnard apartment.

After decades of liv­ing a few miles from the scene of the crime, Gar­cia has final­ly been linked to the mur­ders, offi­cials said.

“The fact is, this sus­pect has been in hid­ing for over 40 years,” Ven­tu­ra Coun­ty Sher­iff Jim Frei­hoff said at a news con­fer­ence Thursday.

In 2004, inves­ti­ga­tors deter­mined that the same per­son had killed two women, but were unable to con­firm a DNA match in law enforce­ment databases.

Gar­cia was iden­ti­fied as a sus­pect in 2019 after inves­ti­ga­tors in the unsolved case turned to genealog­i­cal DNA com­par­ing crime scene DNA with com­mer­cial data­bas­es that may con­tain pro­files sub­mit­ted by the per­pe­tra­tor’s rel­a­tives, offi­cials said. rice field.

Gar­cia is charged with two counts of mur­der and the spe­cif­ic alle­ga­tion that they were mul­ti­ple mur­ders, one involv­ing kid­nap­ping and rape. Pros­e­cu­tors have not decid­ed whether to seek the death penal­ty or life impris­on­ment with­out parole.

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