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Authorities link the late Reuben J. Smith to two 1980s murders

Murder victims Janet Stallcup, Shannon Rose Lloyd and Renee Cuevas are pictured from left to right. Authorities announced Monday, July 25, 2022, that they have linked the murders of Lloyd and Cuevas to a man who took his own life in 1999. A suspect in the Stallcup murder was arrested last year. (Screenshot from Orange County District Attorney’s Office Facebook video)

Authorities in Orange County, Calif., said on Monday they had linked two decades-old murders of young women to a man who died by suicide in 1999, attributing his identification to DNA long after concluded that the murders were connected.

Ruben J. Smith shot himself in Las Vegas after being arrested there in 1998 for sexually assaulting and attempting to kill a woman. Police now say the woman was at least his third victim, along with two other women murdered at his hands in California in 1987 and 1989.

‘Justice has no expiration date,’ Orange County prosecutor says Todd Spitz said Monday. “Whether a crime took place 40 years ago or 4 minutes ago, the people of Orange County can be sure that law enforcement in this county will not rest until justice is served. returned.”

Authorities announced on Monday that Smith, who was 39 when he died in 1999, strangled a 23-year-old Shannon Rose Lloyd after sexually assaulting her on May 21, 1987 and then murdering a 27-year-old man Renee Cuevas on February 19, 1989. Lloyd was found dead in a room she rented in a townhouse in Garden Grove while Cuevas’ body was found along a road near a U.S. Navy base now closed.

Investigators in 2003 linked the murders through DNA evidence found at both crime scenes. Then last year, a genetic genealogy team from the Orange County district attorney’s office identified Cuevas as a potential suspect. The process they used is similar to the one that led to the 2018 arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the so-called Golden State Killer.

Authorities said Monday that Smith was born in Michigan but lived in Orange County in the 1980s before moving to the Las Vegas area. They are asking people with additional information about his life in Orange County to contact the Garden Grove Police Department at 714-741-5839 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.

“Today is a good day,” Cuevas’ cousin said Yolanda Him during a press conference. “I will not talk about the individual who took my cousin Renée’s life, but rather share her life with you.”

He told her that her cousin’s son “looked a lot like her” and was “her pride and joy”.

“Renee was the kind of mom who gave her son the kind of unconditional love that only she can give him,” Lui said. “She would always have a present for him, candies, clothes, toys. He had wrapped it around his finger.

Lloyd’s older brother, Tom Loyddescribed his sister as “tough” and “not afraid of much”.

“It’s hard for me to imagine how someone can take another person’s life and just get rid of it,” he said in a press release.

Spitzer said relatives of Cuevas and Lloyd “now have the answers to the question they’ve been asking for more than three decades.”

“The justice that every victim deserves was hidden in the DNA,” Spitzer said, but thanks to advances in technology combined with the dedication of police, prosecutors and medical examiners, “we now know who killed Renee and Shannon.”

Investigators spoke with Smith’s victim from 1998 and said she described the attack as “horrific”.

“The evil in him. I know if I didn’t fight I was going to die,” the woman said in a press release. “The things he did, the things he said. He told me he was going to kill me.

Monday’s announcement comes about a year after Garden Grove police arrested a suspect in the 1976 rape and murder of Janet Stallcupa 19-year-old nursing student who died in her car.

Authorities showed Stallcup’s photo at their conference on Monday, along with photos of Lloyd and Cuevas.

“Homicides have a lasting effect on victims, families and loved ones. Many live in sadness, anger, agony and grief. Many have questions and wonder why their loved ones were taken from them,” the Garden Grove Deputy Police Chief said. Amir El Farra.

(Screenshot from Orange County District Attorney’s Office Facebook video)

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