Fugitive arrested in 1992 Germantown slaying

Santiago Pedroso
Santiago Pedroso
Posted: September 22, 2013

A man sought in the 1992 slaying of a woman in a crowded restaurant in Germantown has been arrested in the Philippines and brought back to Philadelphia to face trial, the FBI said Friday.

Authorities said Santiago Pedroso, 71, was taken into custody Sept. 9 outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

He was transported to Los Angeles, turned over Wednesday to FBI agents from Philadelphia, and arraigned Thursday on one count of murder in the shooting of Delores Alvarez, 41, at the Hathaway Inn.

At the time, the victim was waiting to be served dinner with a friend, Pedroso's estranged wife, Maria Gomez, 44.

After allegedly shooting Alvarez multiple times, Pedroso ran out of the restaurant and had been on the run since.

The FBI got involved in the manhunt early on.

"We had leads literally all over the world looking for Mr. Pedroso," said Supervising Special Agent John Kitzinger, who leads the FBI Violent Crime Task Force in Philadelphia.

"We sent investigative leads to Hong Kong, Singapore, Portugal, Spain, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia, Guatemala, and Italy," Kitzinger said. "He was in business selling religious artifacts, so he had contacts in all of those countries. We put a lot of investigative resources into finding him."

Retired FBI Special Agent Michael Carbonell, who led the investigation for several years, said that for a while, authorities focused on Mexico.

"We knew where he was in Mexico. The Mexican government wouldn't arrest him," Carbonell said. "It was extremely frustrating."

Then, for years, nothing.

Until Sept. 5, when Pedroso went to the American Embassy in Manila to apply for an emergency U.S. passport.

"He was trying to get out of the Philippines. He was afraid for his safety for some reason," Kitzinger said.

U.S. State Department workers there reviewed his name and found there was a warrant for him.

Pedroso was arrested four days later, when he returned to check on his passport application.

Authorities in Manila "were able to determine that he had been in the Philippines since 1996," Kitzinger said. "They believed he entered the country by stowing away on a ship."

The killing was a dramatic crime of passion. Police said the shooting happened June 21, 1992, at the Hathaway Inn on Chelten Avenue near Wissahickon. At the time, the restaurant was filled with diners celebrating Father's Day.

Pedroso, who lived near the restaurant, had dinner there with his daughter, Raquel, 17, about 6:30 p.m. As they were leaving, they encountered Alvarez and Gomez arriving to have dinner.

He and his daughter left and returned minutes later. Witnesses said Raquel was standing behind her father, screaming: "Pop, no. Pop, no."

Pedroso, whom police described as a "spiritualist" who operated a religious-goods store in the Hunting Park, shot Alvarez four times in the head with a small-caliber handgun, then stood over her and fired once more into her body, according to police.

Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. Pedroso walked out as calmly as he had walked in and vanished.

Police said he killed Alvarez because she was living with Gomez. Pedroso and Gomez, who were married for more than 18 years, had recently broken up, and the two women, according to friends, "were starting a life together."

Pedroso "thought that over the passage of time [the case] would go away, but it never goes away as far as we're concerned," Kitzinger said. "He didn't escape our justice system, and he was brought back to answer for his crimes."

Carbonell said that although the case had gone cold, "I had never forgot about it. It was a terrible thing that he did. I was hoping he wouldn't get away with it. And he didn't. He's back to face justice, and that's very good."

Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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