When Joselyn Martinez was just nine years old, her father Jose Martinez was shot and killed outside his restaurant in New York City in 1986. Allegedly, one of the customers, Justo Santos, produced a gun and shot Jose.
The NYPD received information that Santos fled to the Dominican Republican and was put in prison there, so the police closed the case, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne tells CNN.
But a year later, Santos was released from jail while the NYPD case remained closed.
“They should not have closed the case,” says Commissioner Ray Kelly. “[It] should have been looked at to see if there was additional information as to whether or not he was out of jail.”
Years later, Joselyn studied law and learned there is no statute of limitations on a homicide, which means a suspect can be brought to justice no matter how many years have passed since the crime occurred.
So Joselyn began tracking down her father’s alleged killer online. She read articles, spent a little money on background checks and used sites like MySpace to find Santos.
In November 2012, Martinez took her findings to the NYPD in the 34th precinct cold case division. Eventually, the police located Santos in Mami, where he was arrested and eventually confessed to Jose’s killing.
The Miami detectives are planning on bringing Santos back to New York on Friday, June 14.
“She’s the person most responsible for finding her father’s killer. She did outstanding work,” says Browne.
“It took a team effort,” Martinez says, adding the police were quick to respond to the information she had obtained online.