Three men have been arrested in Northern California in connection to a gang-related cold case murder that happened two decades ago after investigators re-interviewed witnesses who apparently had a "change of heart," authorities said.
Nhin Phi Ha, 22, was stabbed to death by two suspects while standing in front of his apartment complex on Avalani Avenue on Oct. 31, 2001, the San Jose Police Department said. Ha’s friend was also stabbed multiple times but survived his injuries.
The two suspects fled the scene in a vehicle driven by a third suspect.
Investigators worked over the course of 20 years developing leads but made no arrests until police teamed up with the San Jose District Attorney's Office cold case unit in August 2021.
Fresh eyes "brought new life to the investigation" and the team returned to old leads, police said.
"They actually went and re-interviewed witnesses for whatever reasons decided to become more cooperative," police spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo told KPIX-TV. "Maybe they weren’t involved with what they were involved with 20 years ago today. They were more forthcoming. Our detectives, with that new information, were able to corroborate some stuff that they already knew."
The team "connected the dots" and located all three suspects in San Jose on Wednesday, police said. No details on what new information the witnesses gave were immediately released.
Eutropio Dagayray, 47, Francis Dagayray, 45, and Gilbert Meriales, 45, were all arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail.
All three suspects face charges of homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and gang enhancements.