A 21-year-old serial killing cold case has been solved – with police saying they believe there are more victims of the murderer.
Roberto Fernandes died in 2005 in a plane crash – but officers in Florida, US, have now matched his DNA to a string of slayings at the start of the millennium.
The body of Kimberly Dietz-Livesey was found stuffed inside a suitcase on a roadside near Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June 2000.
Two months later, Sia Demas’s beaten corpse was found in a duffel bag a few miles away.
And in August 2001, Jessica Good’s body was found floating in the sea near Miami. She had been stabbed to death.
All three women were prostitutes with drug addiction problems.
Police identified Fernandes as a suspect, but the flight attendant, who was working for a Miami tour company at the time, fled the country and went to Brazil – which does not have an extradition treaty with the US.
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There, Fernandes was accused of murdering his wife, but acquitted after claiming he killed her in self defence.
Detective Zach Scott, from the Broward County Sheriff’s office in Florida, said the wife’s family were bitter that Fernandes escaped conviction, and may have sought to have him killed in return.
It was at this point that Fernandes left for Paraguay – and subsequently died in a plane crash, before being buried in Brazil.
Police from Florida had limited DNA evidence from the murders, and were unable to match what they had to anyone in their US database.
However, they made a breakthrough when they ran the sample through the Brazilian network.
But they had to apply to a Brazilian judge to get Fernandes’s body exhumed – and show he had not faked his death.
The exhumation proved the body was indeed Fernandes and DNA from the corpse matched samples from the Florida killings.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said the case showed that “justice never expires”.
Detective Scott said: “I believe there are other cases out there. There is no limit as to where he could travel.”