Orange County Officials Solve Cold Cases with Genetic Geneaology

Two cold case murders in Orange County have been tied to a man who was arrested in 1998 for trying to kill another woman in Las Vegas.

Garden Grove Police Lieutenant Mario Martinez says the man killed himself in 1999. The Orange County DA says using DNA to create a family tree has already identified four murderers in Orange County and solved 200 cases nationwide.

In late May 1987, Shannon Rose Lloyd, 23, was found dead in a bedroom she rented in Garden Grove. An autopsy revealed that Lloyd had been sexually assaulted and died by strangulation. Officials say that although all leads were pursued, the case went cold.

In 2003, the Orange County Crime Lab was able to link Lloyd’s homicide to an 1989 cold case homicide. Officials say Renee Cuevas, 27, was found along Lambert Road near the El Toro Marine base in the early hours of Feb. 19, 1989.

In 2021, officials identified a possible suspect as Reuben J. Smith — a Las Vegas man who had committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 39.

According to officials, in July 1998, Smith was arrested in Las Vegas for the sexual assault and attempted killing of a third woman.

DNA evidence from Smith’s arrest and the DNA profile found at both the crime scenes of Lloyd and Cuevas’ homicide were a positive match.

“The evil in him. I know if I didn’t fight, I was going to die” said the surviving victim from the 1998 attack. The victim, who did not want her identity disclosed, said “It was horrible. The things that he did, the things that he said. He told me he was going to kill me.” She fought back and was able to escape, but this attack still haunts her to this day.

Reuben J. Smith lived in Orange County in the 1980’s before moving to the Las Vegas area. Anyone with additional information about Smith’s activities when he was living in Orange County is asked to call Garden Grove Police Detective T. Ramirez at 714-741-5839 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

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