Family Of Victim Marleny Cruz Thankful NYPD Detective Never Gave Up On Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A convicted killer in Pennsylvania has been indicted and arraigned in connection with the 1998 slaying of a 14-year-old Bronx girl, prosecutors announced Thursday.

James Martin, 40, was ordered held without bail, according to Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

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Martin was extradited to New York on Wednesday from the Somerset Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania on murder and rape charges in the death of Marleny Cruz.

Cruz’s body was found in a park in University Heights on Feb. 23, 1998. Police said she had been brutally raped and strangled.

“I’m upset. I’m mad. I’m angry for what he did to her, but I’m glad they got him,” Alice McLeod, Cruz’s foster mother, told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Thursday.

Marleny Cruz (credit: Handout via CBS 2)

The case went cold until DNA evidence led detectives to Martin last September, police said.

Malcolm Reiman, a detective with the Bronx Homicide Task Force, decided to do a renewed search of the database using newly uncovered evidence, looking for a match to scrapings of flesh that were found underneath Cruz’s fingernails.

“There’s fingernail scrapings and swabs for various parts of the body and we got a direct match for James David Martin from one of those swabs,” Reiman told Slattery.

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McLeod said she was thankful for Det. Reiman’s perseverance.

“I’m glad he didn’t let it go. Bless him because he did not give up on the case,” she said.

With that evidence, the detective matched the DNA to Martin, police said, who was already locked up in Pennsylvania for killing his common-law wife.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and until proven guilty, he’s innocent,” said Xavier Donaldson, Martin’s attorney.

He had also been found guilty in a string of other crimes, including two other strangulations.

If convicted in this latest case, Martin faces up to life in prison.

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