DNA evidence leads to arrest in ’07 strangling

SACRAMENTO — DNA evidence led county authorities to arrest a 44-year-old homeless man on Wednesday for the fatal strangling of a female drifter nearly two years ago.

On Nov. 26, 2007, the unclothed body of 26-year-old Sofia Marta Marquez was found near a freeway onramp beneath a pile of branches.

Evidence from the scene was submitted to the crime laboratory operated by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. This July, homicide detectives received word that DNA evidence collected from Marquez’s fingernails belonged to 44-year-old Bryan Cordell Johnson, a subject in a statewide DNA database for convicted offenders, known as CODIS.

Two homeless witnesses told detectives they had seen Marquez with a man matching Cordell’s description the night before her death, according to an arrest warrant request obtained by The Sacramento Bee. When interviewed, Cordell denied knowing Marquez and declined taking part in a lineup.

A warrant for Johnson’s arrest was issued Wednesday. Detectives with the county Sheriff Department’s Homicide and Major Crimes bureaus picked up the transient Wednesday afternoon on Bannon Street. He is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court.


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