Authorities are asking for the public’s help to identify a woman who was brutally strangled and then had her body set on fire in Santa Ana more than a decade ago.
The unidentified woman was kidnapped and killed by Zenaido Valdivia-Guzman, 36, in 2009.
Valdivia-Guzman, who was 23 at the time, was convicted in the woman’s death on Tuesday.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, he picked lured the woman into a van near the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and First Street in Santa Ana on Sept. 5, 2009, then strangling her to death when she began screaming for help.
The vehicle was allegedly being driven by Gabino Valdivia-Guzman, Zenaido’s brother. Gabino is accused of pulling the woman’s body out of the van, dumping it in a business complex in Irvine and then setting her on fire.
The two were arrested more than a year after the woman’s body was found.
The Irvine Police Department is hoping that renewed interest in the case will lead to someone positively identifying the victim.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Irvine police Detective John Sanders at 949-724-7233.
“This woman did not deserve to have her life ended in such a horrific way by a complete stranger,” said District Attorney Todd Spitzer in a news release. “We may not know yet who this woman was, but we will never stop trying to identify her and we will never stop pursuing justice for her and everyone who loved her.”
Zenaido Valdivia-Guzman faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15.
Gabino, who was 40 at the time, has been charged for the woman’s death and has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping. He is due back in court on Thursday, according to jail records.