The family of 13-year-old Minerliz “Minnie” Soriano has waited 22 years for what took place on Monday, when an arrest was finally made in her cold case.
Minnie went missing on Feb. 24, 1999. A very responsible and diligent young woman, Minnie usually picked up her 7-year-old sister Nadia from school and the two would make the 30-minute journey home together, according to Medium.
When Nadia arrived home by herself, her family knew something was wrong. They searched the area and alerted the police, but they were assured over and over again that Minnie was probably just hanging out with friends — though her family knew that wasn’t like her.
Three days later, a homeless man found the teen’s body in a dumpster behind a store. She’d been strangled and stuffed into plastic trash bags.
For 22 years, her killer went free — but that whole time, her death haunted now-retired NYPD detective Malcolm Reiman, who was involved with the case since it began.
“There was DNA present on the victim, and it was an unknown donor, which means the person is not identified,” he told CBS2. “He’s not in any known database.”
Years later, when familial DNA testing was developed, Reiman urged the department to pursue that route.
“If the perpetrator’s relatives are in the database, it will actually indicate that the relative is in the database,” he said.
So they did. And they found a suspect.
“When familial DNA search was introduced, familial DNA searching is a deliberate search using specialized software for a relative,” the commanding officer of the NYPD Forensic Investigative Unit, Emanuel Katranakis, said. “So we searched this particular DNA profile, and as a result, we had a forensic familial DNA search hit to the father of the defendant.”
On Monday, police arrested 49-year-old Joseph Martinez of New Rochelle and charged him with murder. Martinez apparently has an online persona, “Jupiter Joe,” and has actively been teaching kids about astronomy.
Martinez has pleaded not guilty, and the family still has plenty of questions. What was the motive? Why Minnie? Hopefully they will have their answers soon.
“We never forget what happened, because she is still in our heart,” Amelia Soriano, Minnie’s aunt, told WABC-TV.
“She was a very sweet child, so happy,” Soriano said, according to the New York Post. “She danced, she sang, she told stories, she was full of love.”
“We don’t want her to be remembered as like, she’s this little girl who was found in the Bronx,” another relative, Destiny Soriano, told News 12 Bronx.
“We don’t want her to be known as a dumpster Bronx case. We want her to rest in peace. We want her name to be known as justice, as awareness, as hope …”
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