Police Say DNA Links '94 Slaying to Death Row Inmate

Fort Worth police say a database has confirmed an investigator's suspicions, linking a death row inmate to a 1994 slaying through DNA.

Juan Segundo had already been linked through DNA to the rape and strangulations of two women and a young girl between 1986 and 1995. He is on death row for killing the 11-year-old girl.

But the death of 23-year-old Melissa Badillo remained unsolved until 2010, when a cold case detective researching a map discovered the Badillo case matched the mode of operation of Segundo.

Detective Tom O'Brien then discovered that the fingernail scrapings from Badillo's autopsy were never processed for DNA.

Recently, the genetic match was made, confirming what O'Brien suspected.

To police, Segundo was a logical suspect in the Badillo case. But to Badillo's sister, Sylvia Sanchez, he was a former neighbor on Fort Worth's north side and big brother to Badillo's best friend.

"When the detective told me that he was a suspect, the blood just ran down to my feet because I couldn't fathom that he would do that knowing who we are, knowing we grew up in the same barrio, that we were from the same block," Sanchez said in Friday editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Tarrant County prosecutor Christy Jack did not find it surprising that Segundo has been linked to another homicide, considering his past conviction and his confirmed connections to other cases. But because he's already on death row, she said it has not been determined whether he will ever be tried in any other cases, including Badillo's.

"We will continue to investigate all of the unsolved cold cases until we have the full measure of his handiwork," Jack said. "A decision will be made at that time as to whether he is to be tried a second time."

In fall 1994, the 23-year-old Badillo left home and never returned. Her nude body was found in a wooded area in September. She had been strangled.

Sanchez raised Badillo's infant daughter, Angela Badillo, as her own, only revealing the true identity and tragic fate of her real mother a few years ago.

"It wasn't like I was left alone. I had people here for me. I had a good family around me," Angela Badillo, now 17, said. "I was grateful to have what I have, instead of being left with nothing."

But having only photographs and not personal memories of her mother, Angela Badillo acknowledged, can be difficult.

"My mother was taken from me at 5 months old. I was robbed of the chance to know her firsthand and that had always weighed heavily on my shoulders," Angela Badillo said. "That weight slowly lifted as I grew to know her through the memories of others. She touched so many lives with the time she had.

"I was once told that I could honor her with everything that I do; to live my life according to plan. It may not always be easy, but when she looks down on me, I know she'd be proud."

On Wednesday, O'Brien and homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson met with Segundo in Huntsville, and he refused to discuss the case.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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