Westchester man charged in 1999 cold case Co-op City murder of teen

On Monday, NYPD detectives lead Joseph Martinez out of the 49th Precinct in the Bronx after DNA implicated him in the 1999 murder of a 13-year-old girl from Co-op City.
Photo Adrian Childress

A Bronx family now has some closure as the NYPD solved a cold case Monday when a Westchester County man was arrested for the 1999 murder of a child in Co-op City.

On Monday, Joseph Martinez, of New Rochelle, was charged with murder for the killing of Minerliz Soriano, 13, who was found in a bag inside a garbage dumpster more than 20 years ago.

According to police, Martinez, 49, was arrested after new DNA evidence led NYPD detectives to link him to the murder of Soriano. Her body was found wrapped in a plastic bag and left in a dumpster behind a video store in Co-op City in February of 1999, where the case soon grew cold, a source close to the investigation told amNewYork Metro and the Bronx Times.

Martinez was charged Monday with with two counts of second-degree murder for the brutal killing and remained silent with his head down in shame as officers escorted him from the 49 Precinct on Eastchester Road in the northeast Bronx.

NYPD sources explained that the case remained cold until 2011 when the slaying reopened and credits the leap in DNA technology over the past 20 years as instrumental in bringing the alleged killer to justice.

Soriano was last seen by her family when she left her Bronx apartment on Feb. 24, 1999, to catch a bus to school, but she never arrived. Her body was found less than one week later.

The NYPD hopes this arrest will bring a small measure of closure and comfort for the family.

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