The decade's most triggering comedy
A man who spent nearly 40 years on the run after allegedly killing a Florida woman in 1984 has been arrested.
Donald Santini, 65, had been featured three times on “America’s Most Wanted,” but remained free until he was captured last week in California and extradited back to Florida.
“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. Let’s not forget the tireless work that has gone into this case over the years, the resources, and expertise to pursue justice for Cynthia Wood,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said, according to USA Today.
In June 1984, Cynthia Ruth Wood was a 33-year-old divorcee living in Florida. She met Santini, who promised to help research information on Wood’s ex-husband that could help her win custody of her children, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Wood met with Santini on June 6, 1984 to discuss the case, but disappeared. Her body was found on June 9, 1984, in a water-filled ditch. An autopsy determined she had been strangled.
Pamela Lynn Kincaid, who knew Santini, told Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives that Santini, using the alias Charles Michael Stevens, had confessed to her about killing Wood. Authorities later determined that Stevens was one of three aliases Santini used before Wood died.
Santini was convicted of rape in 1978, while he was serving in the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany. After he returned to his home state of Texas, he was charged with aggravated robbery for robbing a convenience store. Upon his release, he moved to Longboat Key, Florida, and began working as a janitor using the Stevens alias, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
This is where he met Kincaid, eventually moving in with her. Her children attended a day care center near her home, where Wood worked as the manager.
Wood had filed charges against her ex-husband, Barry, alleging he physically abused her and her son from a previous marriage. She was also struggling through a contentious custody battle with Barry over their own two children, which is what Santini said he would help with.
After Wood died, the charges against Barry were dropped, and Santini disappeared for nearly 14 years. To avoid capture, Santini used at least 13 aliases. On June 7, nearly 40 years after Wood went missing, Sanitini was arrested after the FBI and other law enforcement agencies tracked him down in San Diego, California. It was a tip from a Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force that led U.S. marshals to Santini. He arrived at Hillsborough County Jail last week.