Florida Man Indicted in 1986 Murder of Inwood Restaurant Owner
MANHATTAN — A grand jury indicted a man in a decades-old Inwood murder case Monday, a few weeks after dedicated sleuth work by his daughter led to his arrest in Florida earlier this month, prosecutors said.
Justo Santos, 43, was indicted for shooting Jose Martinez to death in front of Rincon Dominican Restaurant in 1986, when Santos was 16 years old, prosecutors said. Santos fled to the Dominican Republic after being named a suspect, cops said.
Santos was arrested in Miami on June 6 and was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced. Detectives transported Santos to New York last week for the arraignment.
If it weren't for the dogged efforts of the victim's 36-year-old daughter, Joselyn Martinez, the case might never have been reopened, Vance said in a press release.
"The victim's daughter was just 9 years old when her father was fatally shot," Vance said in a statement. "Thanks to her unfailing commitment to finding her father's killer, the defendant will finally face justice in New York."
Jose Martinez was just 41 when he was shot to death while working at the Rincon Dominican Restaurant, which he owned, on Nov. 22, 1986, prosecutors said. Santos and two others came into the restaurant, located at 101 Dyckman St., nd began harassing customers and making vulgar comments to the waitresses, including Joselyn Martinez's mother, according to the News account.
Martinez and his kitchen staff forced the men out, prompting Santos to draw a revolver and fire repeatedly at Jose Martinez and the cook, prosecutors said.
Martinez was later pronounced dead at Columbia Presbyterian with a punctured heart and lung, prosecutors said.
According to the Daily News, Joselyn Martinez tracked her father's suspected killer to Florida using online search engines and background checks.
She handed her findings over to the 34th Precinct, which oversaw the 27-year-old cold case investigation.
“I remember his picture on the wanted posters. He was smiling. It was all over Dyckman Street,” Martinez told the newspaper. “My mom told me to never forget his name. She’d tell me, ‘You have to know who did this to your family.’”