RIVERSIDE – A man suspected of strangling his Riverside neighbor in her apartment nearly 20 years ago was charged today with first-degree murder.
Leonard Terrance Woods, 53, is accused of killing Judith Goodman at her residence on Gould Street on Feb. 26, 1992.
Woods was taken into custody without incident this afternoon after police stopped him in his GMC Yukon a short distance from his home on Ninebark Street in Moreno Valley.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Woods’ arrest after investigators obtained forensic evidence allegedly linking him directly to the crime.
The investigation into Goodman’s murder was reopened in the summer of 2010 by the Riverside Police Department’s cold case squad, according to District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall.
He said Woods was an initial suspect in the 44-year-old woman’s death, but evidence at the time was insufficient to bring charges.
According to Hall, Goodman was discovered inside her apartment, bound at the wrists and ankles with plastic zip ties, her mouth covered in duct tape.
”An autopsy determined the cause of death to be manual strangulation,” Hall said. ”The autopsy also found that Goodman had deep lacerations to the back of her head that did not lead to her death. A decorative hay hook was found in the apartment and likely could have caused those head injuries.”
A witness told investigators in 1992 that he saw scratches on Woods’ face immediately after Goodman’s body was found, and other witnesses said they had spotted the defendant going into the victim’s unit, according to Hall.
”Woods said he worked with the victim and had told her about an available apartment in the complex where he lived,” Hall said. ”She ultimately moved into that apartment.”
Earlier this year, cold case investigators submitted the zip ties, tape and clippings of Goodman’s fingernails for DNA analysis, which couldn’t be done in 1992, according to Hall.
The victim’s right-hand fingernails yielded DNA evidence allegedly pointing to Woods as a probable match.
Along with the murder count, the defendant is facing sentence-enhancing weapons allegations. He’s being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Arraignment is tentatively set for Thursday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.