LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Spit solved a multiple murder case that had eluded investigators for six years.
In 2011, 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman was raped, killed and her body dumped along a freeway in Lincoln Heights. Later that year, 17-year-old Michelle Lozano’s body was also found in the same area after she was raped and murdered. On Tuesday, the LAPD said they arrested the man responsible: 32-year-old Geovanni Borjas.
According to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, detectives used “familial DNA” to identify the killer. It’s a computer software that can find similarities between crime scene DNA and the DNA of a convicted felon. If the killer’s DNA is not in the database, maybe a relative’s is. In this case, a search in the statewide database showed that Borjas’ father, who had been arrested for domestic violence, was a close relative of the killer they were looking for. Eventually, detectives identified Borjas as a suspect and secretly collected his DNA.
“They did this by following the individual, during that following, he spit on that sidewalk. Detectives collected that and the DNA was a match. It was a match to both of these murders,” said Beck.
The LAPD had two other successful familial searches: one was the arrest of Lonnie Franklin, better known as the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer. Investigators found that his son, a convicted felon, was a close relative of their suspect. Detectives were confident Franklin was their man, but they needed a sample of his DNA. So with Franklin under surveillance, they picked up a piece of uneaten pizza crust along with utensils. Police sent it to the lab. Soon after, they had a match between Franklin and the DNA found on victims. Beck says there is still controversy in California on whether the state should continue to allow using DNA as investigative techniques.
“If we stop collecting DNA at the time of arrest, if we stop allowing familial searches, then men like this go free,” said Beck.
“I’m trying not to break down but it’s hard, but I’d like to thank the LAPD, all the efforts they did to catch this monster, get him off the streets,” said Richard Duran, the father of Guzman. “Now we know the person who hurt our families is behind bars.”