Florida murder suspect Donald Santini has been on the run so long, he holds the distinction of being featured three times on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” (1990, 2005 and 2013).
His 39-year run from justice came to a quiet end at 3:03 a.m. on Wednesday, June 28, when deputies led him in handcuffs into a Hillsborough County jail in Tampa.
At age 65, Santini has spent more than half his life on the run in connection with the 1984 killing of Cynthia Wood, who was in the midst of a divorce when she was choked to death, officials said.
“The arrest of Donald Santini brings closure to a long-standing cold case and provides justice for the victim and her family after nearly four decades of waiting,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release.
Santini is charged with first-degree murder, officials said.
He was caught in early June in Campo, California, where Santini served as president of a water board and was considered “a pillar of the community,” station WKGT reported. Campo is in San Diego County.
Santini was living in Hillsborough County when Cynthia Wood, then 33, was found “strangled and left in a canal,” the sheriff’s office said.
“Santini was the last person seen with Wood (and) was identified as a suspect shortly after the murder. He fled Hillsborough County immediately,” officials said.
In the years that followed, he went to “prison for raping a woman while stationed in Germany” and was wanted “for aggravated robbery” in Texas, officials said.