SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 63-year-old Northern California man has been charged in the 1989 cold case murder of a Santa Ana transgendered woman, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Douglas Gregory Gutridge, of Lodi, was being held on $1 million bail for the murder of 35-year-old Carla Salazar in her apartment.
The arrest is the result of extensive investigative work by the Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force (OCHTF).
At the time of the murder, Gutridge was considered a person of interest, however, Santa Ana police did not have enough evidence to file charges against him, the DA’s office said.
In 2008, police submitted forensic evidence from the murder scene to the OC Crime Lab and identified unknown male DNA. Salazar had been stabbed multiple times.
Later in November of that year, Gutridge participated in additional interviews and gave detectives a sample of his DNA. Investigators said Gutridge’s story changed several times.
The OCHTF took over the investigation in July 2014 and ultimately matched the male DNA to Gutridge. He was arrested on Dec. 9 at his home in Lodi.
Gutridge faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.
He will be arraigned on Jan. 2 in a Santa Ana court.
CBS2’s Michele Gile reported this was the first cold case investigated by the OCHTF to result in a murder charge.
“I can’t comprehend why anyone would want to hurt her. I can’t,” Salazar’s former roommate told Gile.
“It’s been 25 years. It’s kind of a relief,” said Robert Dougherty, the victim’s ex-husband. “but at the same time, it’s not like a stranger killed her. They knew each other. But they couldn’t have known each other that well. Because if he needed money, or clothing, or a place to live, she would have gave it to him.”