TAMPA, Fla. — A 65-year-old man, Donald Santini, has been apprehended and is now in custody after 39 years since the murder of Cynthia Wood, a 33-year-old woman whose body was found in a canal.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), along with other agencies such as the FBI, had been diligently working on this cold case for many years.
According to investigators, Santini was the last person seen with Wood before her lifeless body was discovered. She had been strangled and left in the canal. Although Santini was identified as a suspect early on, he immediately fled the county, evading capture.
After nearly four decades, investigators finally managed to locate Santini in early June. Sheriff Chad Chronister expressed that Santini’s arrest brings closure to a long-standing cold case, providing justice for Cynthia Wood and her family. He acknowledged the tireless efforts, resources, and expertise that had been invested in pursuing justice for the victim.
Santini was arrested and extradited from San Diego, California, arriving at the Orient Road Jail at 3:03 a.m. on June 28. He has been charged with first-degree murder and has since been transferred to the Falkenburg Road Jail to await trial.
The sheriff’s office revealed that Santini had been featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” in 1990, 2005, and 2013. Despite multiple Collateral Lead Investigation Requests sent to various districts, including those in Texas, California, and even as far as Thailand, Santini had managed to elude capture.
Investigators also disclosed that Santini had previously served time in prison for raping a woman while stationed in Germany. Additionally, he was wanted in Texas for aggravated robbery.