Back in 1989 Santa Ana, CA resident Carla Leigh Salazar was stabbed to death in her apartment.
While the murdered trans woman's case was investigated by Santa Ana police, they didn't identify a suspect at the time, and the case eventually went to the cold case file like many of the unsolved murders that involve trans women.
With the advances in DNA for criminal case detective work, it has allowed police investigators to take a fresh look at cases that couldn't be solved under the methods of the day and gives them another tool in their crime fighting toolbox to close those cold cases.
An arrest has been made in the Salazar case in the person of 63 year old Douglas Gutridge.
He was an acquaintance of Salazar, may have been the last person to see Salazar alive and was suspected by the police of committing the crime. In 2007 police investigators received lab evidence that indicated an unidentified male had been in the apartment at the time of Salazar's death.
That led police investigators in 2009 to contact Gutridge, who volunteered to submit a DNA sample. That evidence wasn't enough to detain him at the time. Continued advances in forensics technology and the formation in Orange County of a Cold Case Homicide Task Force to address a backlog of over 1000 area cold cases led to the renewed interest in the Salazar one.
The advancements in forensic technology combined with Gutridge's DNA place him not only in Salazar's apartment at the time of the murder, but also showed the placement of his hands on her body.
Based on that new evidence, Gutridge was arrested on December 9 and charged with Salazar's murder. It was also the first arrest for the newly minted Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task force. He is facing 25 years to life if convicted, and is being held on a $1 million bond with arraignment scheduled for January 2.
And it gives ne another trans murder case to track in the New Year to see if our fallen sister receives justice.