Justice served: Man charged in 22-year old Bronx cold case

Soriano’s family members wept as investigators rehashed the particulars in the Minerliz murder case.
Photo by Dean Moses

Tuesday NYPD officials and the Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark officially announced the arraignment of an alleged child murderer dating back over two decades.

“For the past 22 years and nine months and a day, that burden has weighed heavy on many who wear the gold shield,” said Deputy Chief Timothy McCormack, the commanding officer of Bronx Detective Bureau, during a press briefing at the Bronx District Attorney’s office on Nov. 30.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, investigators, and other officials discuss the arrest of Joseph Martinez. Photo by Dean Moses

Thirteen-year-old Minerliz Soriano disappeared while traveling to school on Feb. 24, 1999, her body was found less than a week later. Stuffed in a plastic bag and tossed away like trash, the young girl was left in a dumpster behind a video store in Co-op City, now known as the Bay Plaza mall. Over twenty years later Soriano’s tearful family gathered to watch the announcement that her killer had been apprehended.

Deputy Chief Timothy McCormack, the commanding officer of Bronx Detective Bureau. Photo by Dean Moses

“Investigators used familiar DNA, the first time the technology has been used in New York City to solve this case,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said, “This beautiful little girl was treated less than human.” 

DNA was tracked to the father of Joseph Martinez, which then led investigators to the 49-year-old who also goes by the alias Jupiter Joe (a nickname earned for offering sidewalk astronomy lessons.) Martinez of 40 Memorial Highway in New Rochelle was charged on Nov. 29 for two counts of second degree murder, felony and intentional, and could be observed leaving the 49th Precinct in handcuffs.

Suspect Joseph Martinez is walked out of the 49th Precinct in the Bronx on Nov. 29, 2021. Photo by Adrian Childress

Family members of the slain Soriano became emotional as they listened to the particulars of a case that has haunted them for so many years. However, officials say the DNA technology which led them to the alleged killer was only authorized in 2018 and allowed detectives to search criminal databases.

“It’s been years waiting for this to come to fruition so I’m not feeling too well right now,” Omar Soriano said, sharing his thanks to the NYPD and the District Attorney for their relentless pursuit of the murderer. 

Omar Soriano, cousin of Minerliz Soriano. Photo by Dean Moses

Clark described Soriano as not just another grim statistic, but a vibrant child whose life was taken too soon. She shared her gratitude for both the advancement in forensic technology but also the steadfast dedication of the NYPD and her district attorneys. 

Bronx District Attorney Darrel ClarkPhoto by Dean Moses

“DNA science and technology advanced over the years and familiar DNA in particular, was instrumental in linking the defendant Joseph Martinez, also known as Jupiter Joe to the murder,” Clark said, “While the technology was vital, it really was to humanity, the dedication and the compassion of the investigators and their relentless drive to get justice in this case, and for them.”