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Fugitive woman caught after 30 years

/ Source: The Associated Press

An 87-year-old woman who fled 30 years ago before she could be sentenced for killing a 13-year-old boy was arrested at her apartment, authorities said.

Maria Josefa Otero spent time in Guatemala and Puerto Rico before returning to Miami 15 years ago, police said. Someone called a tip line recently and alerted authorities that Otero was living in Miami under her maiden name, Maria Josefa Viera, said Detective Andy Arostegui. She was arrested Wednesday, authorities said.

The boy’s parents said they found out by watching the news.

“My wife was yelling, ’They caught her! They caught her! Maria Otero! Maria Otero!”’ said his father, Juan Perez. “I thought that book closed long ago.”

Otero was found guilty of second-degree murder in 1976 for the shooting death of Johnny Perez. A judge released her on $50,000 bond to get her personal affairs in order before sentencing.

In 1975, the boy and four friends jumped into the pool of an upscale waterfront apartment building owned by Otero. Otero reportedly stood on the balcony of her apartment building and ordered the youths to leave. Perez was shot in the head as he ran away.

Otero’s attorneys said during the trial that her .38-caliber revolver had accidentally discharged when she slipped and fell on the balcony.

“She wanted to scare them away. It was a freak shot,” defense attorney Donald Bierman told The Miami Herald on Thursday.