An illegal immigrant from Mexico doing time in a federal prison for unlawfully reentering this country is set to appear before a judge next week over his alleged involvement in the killing of a homeless woman 18 years ago in California.
Linda Louise Archer, 43, was beaten to death Aug. 16, 1997, in her campsite off Highway 101 near Castillo Street.
On Thursday, the Santa Barbara Police Department announced that the suspected killer, Manuel Salmeron Manzanares, 36, formerly of Santa Barbara, was arrested on suspicion of murder last month upon his release from federal custody.
The key to cracking what had been classified a cold case was DNA evidence submitted to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services laboratory — and on Feb. 4, 2013, DNA from the Archer case was found to match that of a profile in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.
“The matched profile was that of Manzanares, a federal inmate in custody for illegally re-entering the United States after previously being deported as a convicted felon,” according to a statement from Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Riley Harwood.
The convict was scheduled to be released and deported to Mexico this year.
As part of the investigation, in July 2014, Detective Andy Hill interviewed Manzanares. “The investigation indicates that Manzanares is responsible for the murder of Linda Archer,” according to police.
On May 11, Hill obtained a warrant for Manzanares’ arrest and, upon his release from federal prison June 12, he was taken into custody in the Archer case and booked at County Jail.
The case grew cold when an inmate at Corcoran State Prison told authorities he killed Archer. That turned out to be false, a story likely intended to make himself appear tough to other inmates.
As for how Manzanares wound up in local custody, Harwood told the News-Press his department works with federal authorities, unlike departments in so-called “sanctuary cities.”
“The normal state of affairs is for local, state and federal agencies in the criminal justice system to work with each other. We pick up the phone and talk. In this case, ICE informed us that Manzanares was in custody,” he said.
Manzanares is set to appear in Santa Barbara County Superior Court July 16.