(HorizonPost.com) – After 39 years on the run, a Florida man who was featured three times on the series “America’s Most Wanted,” was finally captured last month in California where he was serving as the president of a local water board, The New York Post reported.
Donald Santini disappeared in 1984 after being named as the suspect in the brutal murder of Cynthia Ruth Wood, whose strangled body was found dumped in a canal in Hillsborough County.
Using over a dozen aliases, Santini, now 65, eluded capture by frequently changing location before finally ending up in Campo, California, a rural community in San Diego County using the name Wellman Simmonds.
Under his fake name, Santini served as president of Campo’s water authority where he drew acclaim for his service to the community.
Santini was reportedly so confident that he would not be found out that in 2018, he was interviewed by a local San Diego station for a report on a fatal car accident.
Santini was arrested on June 7 after the US Marshals Service received a lead from the Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, ABC 10 in San Diego reported. However, the agency would not provide any details about the tip.
On June 9, exactly 39 years after Wood’s body was found, Santini agreed to be extradited to Florida.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said with Santini in custody, the case will now be considered open allowing investigators to “reexamine” the evidence that was collected in 1984 using today’s technology.
The hunt for Santini was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 1990, 2005, and 2013. Detectives were chasing down leads for decades that spanned from Texas to Thailand.
According to reports from the time, Santini befriended Wood who was in the middle of an ugly divorce by promising to provide dirt on her husband. He became a prime suspect in Wood’s murder after his fingerprints were found on her body.
In 1978, Santini served time for rape while he was stationed in Germany with the military.
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