Man charged with murder from 1983 killing

October 5, 2010 4:28:02 PM PDT
Houston police have arrested a man they say killed an 11-year old boy 27 years ago. Paul Salinas was found beaten to death inside a train boxcar in October 1983 and now his suspected killer has been caught in Tennessee. The suspect, Raymond Guzman, is expected to be extradited from Tennessee to Houston to face murder charges. He could face up to life in prison, and for the victim's family, it's been a long time coming.

"Every day I pray for him," said Palmira Salinas.

More than 26 years after her son was murdered, bludgeoned to death, Palmira is finally seeing justice.

She said, "Those emotions never die."

But even as police charge the person they believe committed the crime, there are questions about why it took so long.

Palmira said, "They let him loose. I don't know why."

Paul Salinas was only 11 years old when his body was found in an abandoned boxcar back in 1983. According to Paul's mother, the last person to be seen with Paul was then-20-year-old Raymond Guzman. But at the time, Guzman pointed the finger at someone else. That person was arrested, but charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

"I knew in my heart that boy did not kill my son," Palmira said.

Fast forward five years, Guzman, now in jail, confesses to the murder, telling an HPD officer what he claims happened.

"He mentioned that there was some kind of verbal exchange, some kind of verbal argument that occurred between him and the 11-year-old," recalled HPD Lt. Richard Kleczynski. "That led him to kind of lose it and commit the murder."

But for some reason Guzman was never charged and in the years after the confession, he was arrested three more times. It wasn't until a new set of eyes working with HPD's cold case squad re-examined the case. They sought a new confession and got one just last month.

Lt. Kleczynski said, "There are some missing pieces that we have right now. We're looking into that aspect of it."

Those answers, Salinas' family says, will help them understand -- grateful that finally, someone is behind bars.

Paul's sister Mary Salinas said, "It's something that it's time to close, so we can have a little closure."

As for that previous alleged confession, HPD is still investigating. They say they may run into difficulties doing so because many of the officers from 1983 have retired or died.


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