Arthur Rudy Martinez was an early suspect in a pair of murders in Atascadero, Calif., in the late 1970s. It took 41 years to officially name the now-deceased man as the suspect. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office credits that confirmation to a used razor kept for years by an ex-girlfriend. DNA was available from the 1977 and 1978 murder scenes where both female victims were sexually assaulted and had their arms bound, per the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Last year, authorities used a familial DNA search to identify a family member of the suspected killer—a family member who counted Martinez among his relatives. But Martinez had died in 2014, and authorities didn't have his DNA. But a former live-in girlfriend, by way of a razor he had used that was still in her medicine cabinet. The retrieved DNA proved a match, says Det. Clint Cole.
A witness who had been shown many photos of the years was then presented with an image of Martinez and identified him as the man seen near Jane Antunez's car on the night she died, per the Washington Post. The 30-year-old was found with her throat cut in the backseat of her car on a dirt road on Nov. 18, 1977, reports the Tribune. Less than two months later, Patricia Dwyer, 28, was found stabbed in the chest in her home. Authorities linked the cases; Martinez soon fled the area. Within months, he was sentenced to life for a series of rapes and robberies in Spokane, Wash. He escaped prison in 1994 and spent 20 years on the lam, surrendering in 2014—ostensibly so he could get treatment in prison for his terminal cancer. He died the same year at age 65. "We found nothing to show the victims knew him," says Cole. These "were crimes of opportunity." (Read more cold cases stories.)