A fugitive authorities said is wanted for a murder in New York 27 years ago is being held on no bond by Miami-Dade Corrections after the victim’s daughter used some Internet sleuthing to track him down.
Justo Santos, 43, appeared before a Miami-Dade bond court judge on Monday – not for a crime that detectives say happened in South Florida, but one that took place in the Bronx.
Joselyn Martinez was just nine years old when her father, Jose "George" Martinez, was gunned down outside their family's restaurant in the Bronx in November 1986. Twenty-seven years later, she was able to help find the man accused of killing her dad, Santos, via the Internet.
Santos, who was a teenager at the time of the shooting, fled to the Dominican Republic, was briefly jailed there and then let go. The NYPD ended their investigation into him after he was released from a Dominican jail.
But Martinez never stopped wondering about Santos' whereabouts and recently tracked him down by scouring the Web.
"The idea of being able to look up a person with Facebook and Myspace – Myspace way back when it started – that kind of gave me an idea like, 'Well, I can actually look up someone with this background check stuff,'" said Martinez, who discovered that Santos was living in Miami.
She gave the information to detectives from the 34th Precinct in the Bronx, leading to Santos’ apprehension in South Florida last week. He was booked into jail early Friday, online Miami-Dade Corrections records showed.
“Okay, sir, it looks like you have a fugitive warrant out of New York for second-degree murder and you have no bond, sir,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ariana Fajardo told Santos on Monday.
Santos told the judge that he had family in South Florida and wanted to remain in custody here, but she told him that wasn't an option.
“So do you wish to go back, or do you wish to contest it and then it will take you somewhere between 30 and 90 days to go back?” Fajardo asked.
“I'll go back,” Santos said.
Detectives from New York are expected to come to Miami and take Santos back to face the charges.
But he will remain in South Florida for at least another two weeks, as the judge set Santos’ next court appearance for June 25.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly applauded Martinez's work and said it was a mistake for the department to have closed the case.
"In fact he was arrested, however, he was only in jail for a little over a year and he was released and they should not have closed the case," Kelly said. "It should've been looked at to see if there was additional information.”
More South Florida Stories: