Sheriff’s deputies in Coconino County say they’ve caught a man they believe is responsible for a 32-year-old cold case murder.
On Thursday, detectives arrested 73-year-old Robert Rodriguez Resendez for the 1981 murder of 52-year-old Jerry Arnold Heath.
Gerry Blair, public relations officer for the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, said retired investigator Joe Sumner was able to link Resendez to the murder after receiving a fingerprint match on evidence found in Heath’s car, which Heath was driving when he was killed.
“A lot of times technology, particularly with DNA, has changed so drastically that things that are available certainly were not available in 1981,” Blair said.
“(Sumner) submitted numerous latent prints… to several national databases and did get a hit, with an identical match, with the known prints of Robert Rodriguez Resendez.”
After receiving a fingerprint match, Blair said detectives worked to locate Resendez and tracked him to Medford, Oregon.
“Working with authorities in the Medford Police Department they were able to locate the gentleman,” Blair said. “During an interview, Mr. Resendez did make some statements implicating himself in the crime of murder.”
On Aug. 18, 1981, Heath was driving from Texas to California when he was murdered, Blair said.
“The victim had left his place of employment in Fort Worth, Texas and he was driving his Toyota Land Cruiser back home to Lompoc, Calif.,” Blair said.
When Health did not arrive at home a few days later his wife filed a missing persons report, Blair said.
About a week later, Heath’s car was found with blood inside along the westbound lanes of Interstate-10 in Yuma County. Then, nearly a month after his disappearance, Heath’s body was discovered about 15 miles east of Flagstaff dumped in the brush along Interstate 40.
An autopsy showed he had died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Blair said closing the case after such a long time has helped bring some relief to Heath’s family.
“We did talk to one of the family members and I think there was a sense of relief, and if nothing else a sense of closure,” he said.
Resendez is now facing a second-degree murder charge.
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon