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Murder warrant obtained against ex-neighbor in 2008 beating, stabbing of woman

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The body of a woman was found several days after she was beaten and stabbed to death inside her home in Gwinnett County. And police eight years later said they have found the man they believe killed her — and it was her neighbor who disappeared after her murder.

Investigators have obtained a warrant for murder against 26-year-old Gerson Salmeron-Diaz in the 2008 slaying of 58-year-old Margaret Binkele, Gwinnett County police said Tuesday. Now they have to wait until he serves his time in a federal prison in New Mexico before bringing him back to face the murder charge in Georgia.

On July 25, 2008, Binkele was discovered dead in her home at 5245 Heather Pines Drive in Sugar Hill, police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. She had been dead for several days when her body was found, he said.

An autopsy revealed that she had been beaten, stabbed, and suffered a severe head injury, Smith said. During the autopsy a sexual assault kit was completed which resulted in the collection of an unknown DNA profile, he said.

The DNA profile was entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), but when there were no hits, the case was moved to a “cold case” status, Smith said.

On March 20, detectives finally received a CODIS “hit” - a match with the DNA had been located in the database, Smith said. The matching DNA belonged to Salmeron-Diaz, Binkele’s neighbor at the time of the murder, he said. Salmeron-Diaz was not in the area during the period of the investigation, police said.

During the time between the murder and CODIS hit, Salmeron-Diaz had been deported to El Salvador following an unrelated arrest, police said. He made his way back into the country and was arrested again on Dec. 11, 2013 in Arizona, Smith said.

Salmeron-Diaz and five other suspects were caught by U.S. Park Rangers transporting nearly 400 pounds of marijuana, Smith said. Salmeron-Diaz’s DNA was entered into CODIS following his conviction.

Cold Case Unit detectives traveled to New Mexico where the 26-year-old was being held in a federal prison, Smith said. They interviewed him and obtained a DNA sample to be used as confirmation of the CODIS hit, he said.

Detectives returned to Georgia and, as a result of their follow-up investigation, obtained a warrant for murder for Salmeron-Diaz.

Salmeron-Diaz remains in custody at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico Tuesday, Smith said. He will be transported to Gwinnett County to face the murder charge upon his release, the spokesman said.