Arrest made in 1998 Bronx murder case

May 10, 2012 2:17:50 PM PDT
In February 1998, police found a woman unconscious at 2314 Valentine Avenue. The Medical Examiner's office later deemed her death a homicide due to strangulation.

It was also determined that the victim was sexually assaulted.

Until April 1998, the victim remained unidentified. However, through dental records, she was able to be identified as 14-year-old Marleny Cruz.

Until September 2011, the case remained unresolved. Detective Malcolm Reiman of the Bronx Homicide Task force requested a DNA profile of the evidence that was recovered from the victim. Later in December, it was discovered that the DNA profile matched 40-year-old James Martin, who was incarcerated in the Somerset Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania for the 2005 homicide of his common law wife. He had also served time as a teenager for murdering his friend to steal his Air Jordan sneakers.

On Wednesday, the suspect was extradited to New York and charged.

Marleny Cruz was a runaway who had been through several foster homes. Her body was unclaimed for months, and another family actually had a wake for her before learning she was not their daughter.

Marleny Cruz had been living in foster homes since her mother died. Police say she ran away multiple times,and did drugs and worked as a prostitute before being killed. After her death, the NYPD started a special program to find young teenage prostitutes and get them off the streets.

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