Police have arrested a man they allege is connected to a cold-case murder of a homeless woman whose body was found in a campsite near Highway 101 in Santa Barbara almost 20 years ago.

Manzanares

Manuel Salmeron Manzanares

Manuel Salmeron Manzanares, 36, formerly of Santa Barbara, was arrested on June 12 for the 1997 murder of Linda Louise Archer, a homeless resident of Santa Barbara who was 43 years old at the time of her death, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

A statement was issued Thursday about Archer’s murder, and police said a recent DNA match has led police to make an arrest in the case.

Archer was attacked and beaten to death at her campsite located near the southbound Highway 101 off-ramp at Castillo Street on the morning of Aug. 16, 1997.

Officers and detectives responded to the scene, and the following day arrested Gregory Gavin, a mentally ill transient who had been at the scene and was in possession of property belonging to Archer.  

“Further investigation, however, established that Gavin did not kill Archer and he was released from custody,” Harwood said.

Three years later, an associate of Archer, John Dalton, was arrested after he allegedly confessed to a cellmate at Corcoran State Prison that he had killed Archer.

At the time of the woman’s murder, Dalton had lied to investigators about his relationship with the woman as well as his whereabouts when the crime occurred, Harwood said.

DNA evidence gathered at the scene was not a match to Dalton, and the case against him was dismissed, and police said his statements in prison were likely made to bolster his states among fellow inmates.

The case was reclassified as a cold-case homicide, which are reviewed periodically by the department’s Major Investigation Team.

In December 2012, Sgt. Bryan Jensen, then a Crimes Against Persons detective for the Major Investigation Team, resubmitted DNA evidence in this case to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services laboratory for further analysis.  

Archer

Linda Louise Archer

On Feb. 4, 2013, the DNA evidence from the case was found to match a DNA profile in CODIS, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, Harwood said.

The profile matched that of Manzanares, who was a federal inmate in custody for illegally re-entering the United States after previously being deported as a convicted felon. 

The man was scheduled to be released and deported to Mexico in 2015, but “detectives re-examined the evidence, investigated Manzanares’ background, and located and interviewed his family members and an associate,” Harwood said.

Last July, Detective Andy Hill interviewed Manzanares about his involvement in the case at the U.S. Penitentiary at Lompoc, where he was in custody, and “the investigation indicates that Manzanares is responsible for the murder of Linda Archer,” Harwood said.

On May 11, Hill obtained a $1 million arrest warrant for Manzanares, who was released from federal custody on June 12 and subsequently arrested on the murder charge warrant and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at lcooper@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at lcooper@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.