Former Water Board President Donald Santini Extradited to Florida to Face Decades-Old Murder Charges


A man who had been serving as the president of a local water board in a San Diego suburb has been extradited to Florida to face charges in a decades-old murder case.

Donald Santini
Donald Santini ( Photo: News 18 )

Donald Santini, 65, was arrested in California earlier this month and was booked into a Florida jail on a charge of first-degree murder

Donald Santini had been on the run since June 1984 when Donald Santini was linked to the killing of Cynthia Wood, a 33-year-old woman from Bradenton, Florida. Wood’s body was found in a drainage ditch five days after she went missing. The arrest warrant revealed that Donald Santini was the last person seen with her and that his fingerprints were found on her body. Authorities had previously sought Donald Santini’s whereabouts in Texas, California, and even Thailand, but he had managed to evade capture by using multiple aliases.

Donald Santini had been living under the name Wellman Simmonds in San Diego County, where he served as the president of a local water board in a small suburb. Donald Santini was involved in community activities, such as volunteering with the Rotary Club, owning a Thai restaurant, and managing an apartment block.

After receiving a tip, the U.S. Marshals arrested Santini in Campo, San Diego County

Donald Santini was later extradited to Florida to face the murder charges. The arrest brings closure to a long-standing cold case and provides justice for Cynthia Wood and her family, who had waited almost four decades for this outcome, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Donald Santini, who had a previous conviction for rape while stationed in Germany and was wanted in Texas for aggravated robbery, is now being represented by the public defender’s office. Donald Santini has expressed his desire for legal representation that will ensure his rights are protected.


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