Homicide

Police use spit from sidewalk to tie man to 2011 Los Angeles murders

Los Angeles police on Tuesday said they used spit collected from a sidewalk to tie a man to the sexual assault and murder of two women who vanished in 2011.

Investigators used a controversial DNA testing technique known as familial DNA testing to link the suspect, Geovanni Borjas, 32, to the murders of Michelle Lozano, 17, and Bree’Anna Guzman, 22, Charlie Beck , the Los Angeles Police chief, said. 

Familial DNA testing allowed investigators to compare forensic evidence from the victims to law enforcement databases to identify likely relatives of the person who may have committed the crime. The search resulted in a match to Borjas’ father, whose DNA was on file from a prior arrest, Beck said.

Detectives began to follow Borjas and collected his DNA after he spit on a sidewalk, Beck said. The sample matched the DNA that was collected from the crime scenes and Borjas was arrested Thursday.

Borjas was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping. Investigators are still trying to determine if Borjas knew the two victims, but he hasn't cooperated with detectives, Beck said.

Lozano was found dead in April 2011 after she disappeared from the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. Her body was found wrapped in plastic bags and stuffed inside a container that was dumped in the brush along Interstate 5, police said. An autopsy found she had been strangled.

Guzman disappeared a day after Christmas in 2011 from the Boyle Heights neighborhood. She had told her family she was going to buy cough drops, but never returned. She was found along a ramp leading to State Route 2.

"He's in jail and he's never going to leave," Guzman's father, Richard Duran, said in Spanish. "That gives me a lot of happiness. I have closure now."

The DNA technique has only been used a handful of times in Los Angeles. Most notably, it was used to arrest the Grim Sleeper, Lonnie Franklin, Jr., in his serial killings that spanned from 1985 to 2007. Officials also used it this year to solve the decades-old killing of the ex-wife of Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.