Cold Case Murder Suspect Arrested After 36 Years in Georgia

Cold Case Murder Suspect Arrested After 36 Years in Georgia
Aloysius Winthrop James

On September 18, 1988, the Santa Maria Police Department (SMPD) initiated an investigation into the murder of Ofelia Sandoval, a 30-year-old resident of Santa Maria, California. The crime took place at the Town Center Motel in the 200 block of N. Broadway in Santa Maria.

Despite efforts by the SMPD Detective Bureau at the time, the case went cold but remained open. However, recent years saw renewed diligence in the investigation, resulting in an arrest warrant being issued for 57-year-old Aloysius Winthrop James, who was a resident of Santa Maria when the crime occurred but later moved to Gainesville, Georgia.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, a joint operation involving SMPD Detective Bureau, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, Gainesville Police Department, Hall County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, and the FBI Task Force – Gainesville, led to James’ arrest at his residence in Gainesville, GA.

James was booked into the Hall County Jail in Georgia on charges of murder and is being held without bail. SMPD Detectives are coordinating with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for James’ extradition to Santa Barbara County to face trial.

Detectives suspect there may be other unreported crimes and additional victims related to James, including threats, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other offenses. Recognizing the sensitivity of the matter, the Santa Maria Police Department assures potential victims that advocates will be available to support them through the reporting process.

Anyone with information regarding James’ involvement in this or any other violent or sexual crimes is urged to contact Santa Maria Police Department Detective Nate Craven at (805) 928-3781 ext. 1610 or