teresa broudreaux
Teresa Broudreaux was the victim of homicide in March 1980, but the case went cold. On Sept. 28, 2017, police made an arrest in the case. Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

DNA evidence linked a registered sex offender to the long-unsolved killing of a pregnant 20-year-old Wilmington woman who was found dead on a beach in Palos Verdes Estates more than 37 years ago, the Los Angeles County sheriff announced Friday.

Robert Yniguez, 65, was arrested Thursday near his home in the San Pedro area in connection with the March 1980 killing of Teresa Broudreaux, a newlywed who was the mother of a 4-year-old girl, Sheriff Jim McDonnell told reporters.

The construction worker — who is married and has a family — was convicted in 1982 of a sexual assault in the South Bay area and served about eight years of a 12-year prison term, according to sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Detective Ralph Hernandez.

Yniguez also had been arrested in February 1981 in connection with another sexual assault, but that case was eventually dropped due to a lack of cooperation on the alleged victim’s part, Hernandez said. He said investigators believe the 1981 attack had a “very similar modus of operandi as to what we believe happened” to Broudreaux, who was found bleeding from the head in the early morning hours of March 4, 1980, after Palos Verdes Estates police responded to a call of a female lying on the beach.

Investigators do not believe Yniguez and Broudreaux knew each other.

“We can’t actually say if a sexual assault occurred,” Hernandez told reporters, but added, “I believe the possible motive to be sexual assault.”

The woman’s husband, Ronnie Fematt, told reporters that he had “been waiting a long time for this day.”

“I’m just glad this day came,” he said, thanking his family for believing in him and sheriff’s investigators for their work on the case.

Investigators determined that the woman had an argument with her husband the night before, walked to her sister’s home and was never seen alive again after leaving her sister’s residence, McDonnell said.

A “series of coincidences” and new DNA technology “produced an unexpected break in the case,” McDonnell said.

“Often these cases wait for a powerful combination of a detective who never gives up, a witness with a guilty conscience or a suspect with a self-serving interest, or in this case new DNA technology,” he said. “The murder of Teresa Broudreaux went unsolved for more than 37 years until now.”

DNA testing in 2013 linked Yniguez to the crime scene, according to Hernandez, who said it was the oldest murder case he had investigated.

The detective — who described Yniguez as being “upset” at the time of his arrest — said he had been interviewed twice and “knew that at some point we would be seeking criminal charges with the District Attorney’s Office.”

Yniguez — who is being held in lieu of $2 million bail — is expected to make his first court appearance in the case Monday in a Torrance courtroom. He is expected to be charged with one count of murder.

–City News Service

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