A suspect has been arrested in the deaths of two young women in Ventura County, a major break in a 42-year-old cold case.
"The fact is this suspect has been hiding in plain sight for over 40 years," Sheriff Jim Fryhoff told reporters Thursday.
Decades after the 1981 murders were committed, Tony Garcia, 68, of Oxnard, was arrested earlier this week. The 68-year-old was charged with two counts of first-degree murder with special allegations for rape and kidnaping.
He made first court appearance Thursday and his arraignment was continued for a few weeks.
The first victim was 20-year-old Rachel Zendejas of Camarillo. The single mother of two daughters was found dead across the street from her apartment.
Investigators at the time concluded she was strangled and raped.
About 11 months later, Lisa Gondek, 21, was found dead in her Oxnard apartment on Gonzales Road. What started out as a fire, turned into something much worse.
"Personnel responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze. But in doing so, they located Lisa's deceased body in the bathtub in the bathroom," said Oxnard Police Chief Jason Benitez.
Gondek was also strangled to death.
Investigators would only say that Tony Garcia met both women at a night club that no longer exists. As far as how the three are connected, investigators said that'll come out during Garcia's trail.
In 2002 and 2004, DNA matches were made from samples at both crime scenes. Years later, advanced DNA technology was able to identify Tony Garcia as the suspect in both murders.
"After more than four decades, the long arm of the law has brought justice to the Gondek and Zendejas families. And and it has brought justice to Tony Garcia," said Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko.
Garcia was ordered to remain in custody without bail. The sheriff indicated his detectives are looking into whether he could be linked to other violent crimes in Ventura County.