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Suspect in 1975 San Diego homicide of Navy service member arrested in NY

Handcuffs. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Law enforcement officials in New York arrested a man suspected of killing a 28-year-old San Diego dental technician in 1975, according to the San Diego Police Department.

New forensic technology were credited with with helping crack the case in the killing of Alvardo Espeleta, who was 28 when his body was found Dec. 31, 1975 in his home on Reynard Way in Middletown, according to San Diego Police Department press release.

Dennis Lepage, 62, was arrested in Troy, New York on Jan. 24 as a suspect in the homicide. Lepage remains in New York, pending extradition back to San Diego.

According to the press release, Espeleta was a dental technician in the United State Navy and was assigned to the Marine Corp Recruit Depart. Two of his co-workers went to his home to check on him after he did not show up for work and discovered his body.

The San Diego Police homicide unit investigated the case, but all leads became exhausted over time. Investigators from the San Diego Police cold case unit, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigations San Diego Field Office, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Southwest Field Office continued looking at this case and comparing the evidence against emerging forensic sciences and technology, according to the release.

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Lieutenant Matt Dobbs of the homicide unit said no additional information about what technology was used was available. The press release states the collaborative efforts of all investigators, along with the work of the San Diego Police Department’s Crime Lab led to the identification of a suspect.

Other agencies named as assisting in the case were the New York State Safe Streets Task Force, the New York State Police, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI Office in Albany, New York. Murder charges have been filed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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© 2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune