A suspect was behind bars Thursday in connection with the savage slaying of an Oceanside woman in her bed 28 years ago, authorities said.
Jesus "Jesse" Velazquez Ayala, 58, was arrested Feb. 9 for allegedly murdering 54-year-old Dolores Rabaya, according to the Oceanside Police Department.
Rabaya's bloodied body was found in her Edgehill Lane home on Jan. 1, 1994. She had suffered 27 stab wounds, including six to her chest and five to her head, along with defensive wounds "showing that (she) had attempted to fight off her attacker," OPD spokeswoman Jennifer Atenza said.
The previous evening, Ayala -- at the time a Carlsbad resident -- and Rabaya had been seen together celebrating New Year's Eve at a South Coast Highway bar, and they left the establishment together, according to police.
San Diego's Unsolved Cold Cases
"At the time of the murder, an extensive investigation was conducted by ... homicide detectives and (Ayala) was identified (as the suspected killer), but charges could not be filed due to a lack of physical evidence," Atenza said.
Additionally, Ayala had left town shortly after the slaying, allegedly after stealing a getaway vehicle from the home where he had been staying and serving as a caretaker for a family.
Eventually, the investigation went cold. In 2015, however, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office reopened the case and forensic evidence recovered at the crime scene was resubmitted for examination using state-of-the-art technology.
Based on the new findings, an arrest warrant was issued for Ayala in 2016.
Investigators eventually tracked down the suspect in Mexico. Last week, he was extradited back to the United States, and police took him into custody when he arrived on a flight that landed at San Diego International Airport, Atenza said.
Ayala was booked into Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of murder, burglary, auto theft and grand theft. He was being held on $5 million bail pending trial.