John William Zelinski. Photo: Orange County DA’s Office

A 61-year-old man has been extradited from Arizona and charged in Orange County with the 1984 stabbing death of a homeless man in Santa Ana, authorities said Thursday.

John William Zelinski of Tuscon, Ariz., was charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement alleging personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife, according to Santa Ana police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The stabbing occurred about 11:45 a.m. on May 18, 1984. Zelinski is charged with escalating a verbal confrontation with the victim, identified only as Roy E., who the defendant knew from a local homeless shelter, according to the district attorney’s office.

Zelinski is accused of stabbing the victim once in his back while they were behind a county office building in the 2000 block of Walnut Street and then fleeing the scene. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died in surgery, according to the DA’s office.

A suspect was not immediately identified by Santa Ana police, but years later a county cold case task force identified Zelinski as the possible culprit, prosecutors said.

“Multiple witnesses at the scene were located and interviewed, and on May 24, 2017, Zelinski was charged with murder,” according to a DA’s statement.

Zelinski’s arraignment has been continued to June 23 in Santa Ana, authorities said.

If convicted, he faces 26 years to life in prison.

–City News Service

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