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Moreno Valley man is suspect in 20-year-old murder

October 3, 2011 |  4:08 pm

Leonard Woods DNA evidence led to the arrest of a Moreno Valley man Monday in a gruesome murder of a Riverside woman, found bound, gagged and slashed with a hay hook, that went unsolved for nearly 20 years, authorities said.

Judith Goodman was found strangled in her apartment on Gould Street in February 1992, her wrists and ankles tied with plastic zip ties and her mouth covered with duct tape. She also had deep cuts on the back of her neck, apparently inflicted by a decorative hay hook inside her home, authorities said.

According to the Riverside County district attorney’s office, detectives with the Riverside Police Department reopened the cold case in 2010, submitting the zip ties, duct tape and victim’s fingernails for DNA testing that was not available at the time of the murder.

Under Goodman’s right-hand fingernails investigators found traces of DNA evidence that linked to a “potential donor”: Leonard Terrance Woods, 53.

Woods lived in the same apartment complex; and, in 1992, witnesses told police they had seen him entering Goodman’s apartment. They also said he had scratches on his face, which investigators also noted.

“When interviewed by police in 1992, Woods said he worked with the victim and had told her about an available apartment in the complex where he lived," D.A. spokesman John Hall said in a statement released about the arrest.

Woods has been charged with one count of murder, with an enhancement of using a deadly weapon -– the hay hook.

According to a 1992 story in The Times, police inadvertently started a fire in Goodman’s apartment when they fired a flash-bang grenade inside, fearing the suspect was still there. The fire consumed the four-unit apartment complex, and firefighters did not enter the building to fight the blaze because they believed an armed suspect was inside. The building burned to the ground.

Riverside police arrested Woods at 1 p.m. Monday, after pulling over his GMC Yukon near his home on Ninebark Street in Moreno Valley.


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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Leonard Terrance Woods. Credit: Riverside Police Department