Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mexican charged in two cold case murders from 1984 and 1990

News 8:

The Austin Police Department's Cold Case Unit has made another arrest.

Police arrested Martin Torres, 44, in connection with the rapes and murders of two Austin women.

Authorities say Torres strangled 33-year-old Jeeta Lynn Graeber in June 1984 after sexually assaulting her. In 1990, 19-year-old Cerrelle Lee Belt was murdered under similar circumstances. Both the women's bodies were found in their own apartments.

Police say Torres' DNA was found at both crime scenes.

An arrest warrant was issued for Torres in 2004, but he had been deported to Mexico years earlier.

In January 2005, detectives began preparations to extradite Torres when they found out he was in a Nuevo Laredo prison for an unrelated crime. He was released from that prison before extradition preparations could be complete.

Torres was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in November 2005. He was extradited in May and taken into U.S. custody this month.

"Both countries worked together to make it possible for justice to be done in the cases of Jeeta Graeber and Cerrelle Belt. Although we are separated by a border, our two countries were united in this effort," Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle said.

This is the first time a suspect has been successfully extradited from Mexico to Austin.

Torres is charged with two counts of murder. Both are first degree felonies.

APD's cold case unit was created in 1999 and has solved 18 murders.

Murder Case Still Unsolved


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