ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - DNA results have brought two old murder cases back into thespotlight while bringing back terrible memories for one victim'sfamily.
Paul Padilla still remembers his big sister's smile, and howmuch she loved him, and after two decades of not knowing who tookthat away, he finally feels hope again.
“She was full of love," Padilla told KRQE News 13.“It's been a long time, and after we did her picture today, Isaid I really can't recognize her.”
Maria, 29 at the time, was attractive, just under 5 feet talland weighed less than 100 pounds.
Her brother said he could never catch her in a foot race, butshe wasn't able to get away from one man, her killer.
”They must have snuck up on her because they never wouldhave caught her," he said.
She was beaten, raped, and strangled in May 1985. Paul stillremembers how he found out.
“I remember walking into my mother's house, and she wasjust wailing, crying," he said. "It's a cry that’sunforgettable.”
Her death broke her father's heart, Padilla said. “Noteven dogs kill each other like they did his baby,” headded.
The Padillas' father died two years after Maria’smurder.
Maria Padilla had taken a walk in the bosque near Rio BravoBoulevard but didn't return home. Her family went looking for herthe next morning, and her oldest son Daniel, 11 at the time, foundhis mother's shoe.
”My older sisters told him that shoe, everyone has one,and he said, 'Not with the paint from my bedroom on it.'”Paul Padilla said.
The results of DNA tests link Padilla's killer to the killing ofSusan LaPorte. She was also beaten, raped and strangled but 70miles away and seven months later in Santa Fe.
Investigators have said both women fought hard for their lives,but there was a difference between the two crimes. LaPorte had beentied up.
Investigators also said they believe the killer gainedexperience between the murders, which suggests it's likely he hadother victims.
Padilla said news of the link is a blessing and a curse.
“It was gone, the hurt was,” he said.
Opening the case back up has caused his pain to flood back.However he said the heartache his family has felt drives them tofind this killer.
“She didn't give up when he was beating her; she wouldn'texpect us to give up," he said.
Maria left behind two sons. Her youngest was 7 at the time ofthe murder and is now a father himself.
He told News 13 the death of his beautiful mother has devastatedhis family.
Investigators said they are still looking through cold casesaround New Mexico to see if other victims might be connected to theman who killed Padilla and LaPorte.
Four and a half years after he went to prison, former state senate leader Manny Aragon is out.
A suspected meth kingpin the FBI thought might be hiding out in New Mexico has been captured.
The popular Capulin Snow Play Area near Sandia Peak will be closed for the second year in a row.
While the roads were looking clearer late Thursday afternoon in the Albuquerque area, they could get dangerous again as temperatures drop later in the evening.
New details were released Thursday in Albuquerque's latest police shooting.
The southeast part of the state is getting hit hard with winter weather.