• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Man arrested in 1992 rape and murder of an OC model

November 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Leonardo Sanchez, now in custody in Mexico, avoided capture for more than 20 years.

Investigator Dan Salcedo of the Orange County Sheriff's Department says it was only a matter of time.

"I knew one day we would get him," Salcedo said, "I just didn't know how long it would take."

The 55-year-old is accused of raping, beating, and murdering Cari Ann Parnes, a 19-year-old aspiring model. Authorities say Parnes ran into Sanchez in March of 1992. Her body was discovered in an orange grove in what is now the city of Irvine.

"I thought it was so tragic because she was so young," said Tony Bisson, a photographer who photographed Parnes.

His photos would later be distributed by law enforcement to try to find her killer.

Over the years, Sanchez was deported several times, only to return to the US. He had a long rap sheet even before he met Parnes. In 1984, he served time for rape.

"The rape occurred almost in the same area where Cari Ann Parnes body was located," said Salcedo. "Based on that rape conviction, he gave up a DNA sample."

With a system backlog, Sanchez's DNA wasn't tested until 2000. Even after Sanchez was identified as a suspect, he eluded authorities.

Investigators say Sanchez managed to avoid capture for the murder by using nearly 30 different aliases over the years.

Authorities say Sanchez was arrested last week after causing trouble at a soup kitchen in Tijuana. He now faces extradition to Orange County, a relief for Parnes' mother, Rosemarie Hudson.

"She was a beautiful soul," Hudson said. "I'm glad to see he has been apprehended and he can't hurt anyone else's daughter."

Load Comments