State DNA database solves 2013 murder of young Long Island woman

State DNA Database Solves 2013 Murder of Long Island Woman

HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. -- When Fernando Romualdo went to state prison last November — convicted of raping an underage girl — he was required to give a DNA sample to be entered into a state database.

That sample ended up solving the 2013 murder of a 23-year-old woman in Huntington Station, Long Island, according to Suffolk County police.

SEE ALSO: Welcome to Miami, the worst city to live in America

The victim was Sarah Strobel. Her partially-clothed body was found in the Froelich Farms Nature Preserve on October 3, 2013.

She would be one of four people murdered in Huntington Station in a one-year period.

The community started demanding answers.

"This was a high priority in the Suffolk County Police Department," Commissioner Timothy Sini told PIX11 News, during an interview this week.

"We knew this was a real wound for the Huntington community. This was one of several murders that wasn't solved."

The 28-year-old Romualdo was recently removed from Mohawk Correctional Facility upstate to be arraigned in Suffolk County on Strobel's murder.

The Commissioner remarked to PIX11 "We've received many tips relating to Sarah Strobel's homicide."

Strobel, a graduate of Walt Whitman High School, was a sweet-faced young woman who got caught up in the heroin epidemic that's swept many parts of Long Island, along with the rest of the country.

A former classmate spoke to PIX11 by phone Thursday, telling us things were so bad, he left the area.

"Things were really bad in Huntington," the classmate said. "It was really hard for kids there. Gangs were getting into Whitman."

The former classmate added that drug activity was right out in the open on some streets.

"You can see it plain as day. You see people walking into drug houses and come out with a little black bag."

RELATED: Notable cold cases

11 PHOTOS
Notable cold cases and unsolved murders throughout history
See Gallery
Notable cold cases and unsolved murders throughout history

In June 1893 Lizzie Borden stood trial, later acquitted, for killing her father and stepmother with an ax.

(Photo via Bettmann/Getty Images)

Foreboding Kingsbury Run, shunned by the timid as the legend of its murders has grown, is indicated on this map by dots locating 10 of the 11 torso murders which have occurred there since Sept. 23, 1935. Police, delving into the lives of the mad murderer's victims, hope to uncover clues which will end the periodic killings. Discovery of photo negatives in the belongings of Edward Andra Ssy, first victim, show Andra Ssy in a strange room which, if identified, may provide a live lead, police believe. As the map shows, the murderer departed only twice from his custom of assailing victims in Kingsbury Run or adjacent Cuyahoga river valley.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Bucks Row, now Durward Street, east London, where the body of Mary Ann Nichols, victim of Jack the Ripper, was found lying across the gutter.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Head shot of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, a murder victim nicknamed the Black Dahlia. 

(Photo via Bettmann/Getty Images)

Daily News front page dated June, 16, 1990, Headline: IS HE THE ZODIAC?, Police sketch of man who approached latest victim in Central Park last Thursday and asked him his birth date., June 26, 1990 . , Zodiac Killer. , Heriberto Seda. Headlines. IS HE THE ZODIAC ?

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

U.S. labor leader Jimmy Hoffa is photographed at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania in this April 12, 1971 file photograph. Hoffa was switching planes from San Francisco, and was returning to the federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. Hoffa was let out of prison to visit his wife, who had been hospitalized with heart problems. FBI teams on May 25, 2006 sifted by hand through dirt from a chest-deep hole in the ground in an intense search for the body of Jimmy Hoffa three decades after his disappearance. Hoffa was last seen outside a Detroit-area restaurant where he was to meet New Jersey Teamsters' boss Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano, a member of the Genovese crime family, and a local Mafia captain, Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone. Hoffa was declared dead in 1982, and numerous books about his life have pinned his disappearance on mobsters who murdered him because they did not want him interfering with their close ties to the union.

(REUTERS/Jerry Siskind)

 The site where 6 year old JonBenet Ramsey was killed in Boulder, Colorado, 1996.

(Photo by Karl Gehring/Liaison)

Black car in which rapper Tupac Shakur was fatally shot by unknown driveby assassins as he was riding w. friend Death Row records. pres. Marion Suge Knight, who survived shooting, behind police tape at crime scene (Photo by Malcolm Payne/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Police detectives released this composite drawing March 27 of the man they believe killed rap star Notorious B.I.G. in Los Angeles recently. The suspect, a black man in his early 20's with close-cropped hair, was wearing a bow-tie the night of the drive-by killing. Investigators have set up a toll free number for the public to call with any information about the suspect. NOTORIOUS BIG
Donna Norris poses next to a photo of her daughter Amber Hagerman, January 4, 2011, who was kidnapped 15 years ago while riding a bicycle near Norris mother's home in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996. (Richard W. Rodriguez/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

When PIX11 met Strobel's best friend back in January 2016 — when we profiled the still-unsolved case — she told us Sarah had talked about getting into escort work to make money.

"She had mentioned something about being an escort and how she could make a lot of money in a short amount of time," the friend recalled. "It kind of really surprised me, because that was not the person I knew. She said something about getting
2 or 300 dollars an hour."

As a child, Strobel — the only daughter of a teen mother — had gone on missionary trips with her church, but later, her life spiraled out of control and she didn't have a stable living situation.

She lost touch with many in her community.

Her best friend remembered the last time she saw Strobel by the train station in Huntington.

"It kills me to this day, because I saw her walking and I wanted to say 'Get in the car, come with me,' and I didn't. Because she's not the person who I was friends with . That's not the person she was anymore. And I regret that moment, because I know two weeks later, they found her. I don't know if I could have done anything."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.