Police have arrested three suspects for a nearly 20-year-old cold-case murder after reinterviewing witnesses who had a “change of heart” and were finally ready to talk, authorities said.
On the evening of Oct. 31, 2001, two suspects fatally stabbed Nhin Phi Ha, 22, and critically injured his friend in front of Ha’s apartment complex, the San José Police Department said.
According to authorities, the two suspects fled the scene in an SUV.
Investigators worked for years tracking down leads, but they could never make an arrest.
In August 2020, the murder cold case was assigned to a San José Police Department and District Attorney's Office Cold Case team, who “connected the dots" by re-interviewing several witnesses, officials said.
“They actually went and re-interviewed witnesses for whatever reasons decided to become more cooperative,” Sgt. Christian Camarillo said, according to San Francisco’s KPIX-TV. “Maybe they weren’t involved with what they were involved with 20 years ago today. They were more forthcoming. Our detectives, with that new information, were able to corroborate some stuff that they already knew.”
“When you really are holding something in for so long that you know was directly related to someone’s death, you can only carry a dark secret like this for so long,” Camarillo added.
On Oct. 6,the San José Police Department’s Covert Response Unit arrested brothers Francis Dagayray, 45, and Eutropio Dagayray, 47, as well as a third man,Gilbert Meriales, 45, who allegedly drove the SUV from the stabbing crime scene.
The three suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail for homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and gang enhancements, police said.
“This was a completely random attack. The suspects did not know the victim, for whatever reasons, decided to attack him that day,” Sgt. Camarillo noted.