Omar Soriano has waited 22 years for good news from the police regarding his younger cousin Minerliz, who went missing on a cold day in 1999.
Days after she went missing, her body was found in a dumpster in the Bronx, spurring an extensive investigation that went cold but was resurrected nearly four years later. ‘It’s been an open wound,’ Soriano said, recalling the years spent braiding his cousin’s hair and playing with her, as well as the times he walked her to primary school. Known as “Minnie,” she was a close friend to him.
At times, Soriano became emotional. Earlier this week, local officials revealed that they had identified the killer of Minerliz Soriano, a previous resident of the building where she lived, and that he had been arrested. The New York City Police Department and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office said they have solved the crime using familial DNA, which is a first for the city.
During a press conference, Inspector Neteis Gilbert said, “This case brings together modern science and classic investigative work coupled with the determination to never give up on justice for an innocent little child.” After a grand jury handed an indictment for second-degree murder in the case, Joseph Martinez was arraigned on Tuesday. His next court appointment is scheduled for March, and he has pled not guilty. Troy Smith, the court-appointed attorney for the 49-year-old man, told CNN that his client has never been arrested in his whole life. Despite this, he maintains his innocence. “This is startling to say the least.”
Years of investigation went towards solving the case for detectives. Exclusive interviews with police and witnesses, a review of parts of the case file, and access to evidence were allowed to CNN by the Bronx Homicide Squad of the New York City Police Department in February 2018. In the end, the “lovely” 13-year-old girl who wrote in her notebooks about love, rainbows, and the stars was vindicated thanks to a combination of science and old-fashioned detective work.