A DNA match led authorities to the man they say stabbed an elderly woman to death inside her West Miami-Dade apartment in March 2013.
Bryan Carlos Rodriguez was formally charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the slaying of Elsa Dominguez, 73, whose body was discovered inside her home on the 9400 block of Fontainebleau Boulevard. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in Miami-Dade court.
His DNA was found under her fingernails, authorities say — investigators believe Dominguez scratched him while trying to defend herself.
Rodriguez, 34, had been in a federal prison in South Carolina for an unrelated identity-theft conviction. He was extradited to Miami-Dade several weeks ago.
Dominguez’s brutal murder had remained a mystery for years. The retiree lived alone in a neatly kept apartment in the Fontainebleau neighborhood about 10 miles west of Downtown Miami.
At the time, Dominguez’s family grew worried because they had not heard from her. They called a neighbor, who went by her apartment and found her bloodied body.
A few days before the murder, Rodriguez was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, a crime for which he did no jail time, and entered a program for first-time offenders.
A few months after the woman was murdered, Rodriguez was arrested again, this time on a charge of strong-armed robbery and battery. According to police, Rodriguez stole $100 and beat up a man during a game of pool at a Hialeah Gardens billiards bar.
But Miami-Dade prosecutors dropped the case before Rodriguez was ever formally charged.
In February, Rodriguez was sentenced to 17 months in prison for identity theft. According to federal prosecutors, Rodriguez was part of a ring that used stolen credit card numbers to buy Gucci purses, JCPenney gift cards and watches at the ritzy Bal Harbour shops.