Police Make Arrest in 1998 Rape, Murder of Bronx Teen

The girl, Marleny Cruz, was found dead in a gutter on Valentine Avenue on Feb. 23, 1998, according to authorities

A Pennsylvania man was arraigned Thursday in the cold case murder and rape of a 14-year-old girl found dead in a gutter in the Bronx in 1998.

James Martin, 44, was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy in the deadly assault of Marleny Cruz, who was a runaway from a group foster home.

Cruz was found dead on Valentine Avenue on Feb. 23, 1998, according to authorities. She had been strangled, authorities said. Investigators were not able to be identify her until April 1998, through dental records.

The case remained unsolved until last year, when the Bronx District Attorney received a grant from the National Institute of Justice to review unsolved cold cases, prosecutors said.

Evidence collected from the sexual assault kit was re-examined, and technology advances allowed forensic experts to pull a full DNA profile, which was loaded into a database.

The DNA matched that of Martin, who was incarcerated in the 2005 killing of his wife, police said.

"There's been fantastic advances in DNA technology in recent years. It's much better than it used to be," said Detective Malcolm Reiman, the NYPD homicide investigator who had the scrapings from under Cruz's fingernails tested for DNA.   

"It doesn't matter whether a homicide is 14 minutes old or 14 years old," he said. "They never go away, and we'll never stop. It's satisfying to bring closure to victims' families."

Martin was extradited to New York on Wednesday. He was arraigned Thursday and ordered held without bail.

Attorney information was not immediately available.

John Noel contributed to this report.

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