Santa Ana Hub

New Evidence Leads To Arrest In 25-Year-Old Murder Case Of Transgender Woman

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.23.38 PMSanta Ana Police made new ground in the 25-year-old murder case of transgender woman Carla Leigh Salazar after DNA evidence led to a new suspect reports The AdvocateSanta Ana police arrested 63-year-old Douglas Gutridge, an acquaintance of Salazar, on Dec. 9 and charged him with Salazar's murder. in June 1989, Salazar, then 35 years old, was stabbed to death in her Santa Ana, Calif. home and the case soon went cold.

Thanks to further advances in technology, new DNA evidence was uncovered linking Gutridge to the murder. Police contacted Gutridge 18 years after the murder and Gutridge volunteered a DNA sample in 2009. However, the evidence alone was not enough to detain him. Five years later, advances in forensics place Gutridge inside Salazar's apartment at the time of the murder and show the placement of his hands on the victim's body. The new Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force was established in July to address the area's more than 1,000 cold cases with Salazar's case listed at the top of the task force's list; it's the team's first arrest. Salazar's friends and family never expected to see Salazar's murder solved, including friend Christine McFadden.

Said McFadden:

"She deserved justice, she didn't deserve to die. She was the total essence of love and compassion and friendship. She didn't have a mean bone in her body ... When I got that call from detectives, hope came into my heart. But I won't be completely at peace until he's put away."

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.23.14 PMPolice are currently holding Gutridge on $1 million bail and faces a maximum of 25 years to life in state prison. Gutridge's arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 2. Salazar's former husband, Robert Dougherty, expressed relief in Gutridge's arrest.

Said Dougherty:

"It's a relief. I want other families to be able to feel that too."

Noose Hung on Door of Equality California Office. Police Shrug: 'Sometimes You Have to Live with Being a Victim'


Mel Distel, a 25-year-old volunteer at Equality California's Santa Ana branch reports that she arrived at work last night to find a noose hanging on the door of the office.

Distel Wait till you hear what the police officers she called had to say:

When the police arrived, two officers spoke to Daniel and myself outside.  The male officer dominated the conversation.  There was nothing they could do, of course, there was no suspect and no crime had been committed. The officer said "what it is, is a string on a door."  My vision got blurry, I was embarrased and felt stupid for making the call.  I took a deep breath and said "Do you see any correlation between the fact that this is a gay office and there was a noose left on our door in the wake of all of these teen suicides?"  The officer said, "Sometimes you just have to live with being a victim," and proceeded to mention that his car had been broken into before. As if that's the same. As if having your stereo stolen is anything like the message "You should kill yourself."  As if random theft is anything like an act meant to convey hate and stir up fear in the heart of a minority group.

I want to thank Karla for having a long discussion with the sargeant about the situation.  No, it was not legally a hate crime, because there was no crime (just hate). And the officer likely did not intend to come off the way he did.

But I'm still in shock.  I pray that no officer ever tells a bullied teen that, "sometimes you just have to live with being a victim."  The officer made me feel foolish for being shocked and afraid.  I feel stupid and unjustified.  Our volunteers felt hurt, angered and confused.

I am so grateful for the excellent family of volunteers who came together tonight, supported eachother, worked through their emotions, and even made an astonishing number of phone bank calls.

I am sorry for anyone who has experienced hate or intimidation, and my heart goes out to anyone who has reported it and been made to feel stupid for reaching out for help. 


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