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Police spent two years seeking man in 1980 Santa Monica killing

May 31, 2012 |  4:25 pm

A 53-year-old Pennsylvania man has been arrested in connection with the slaying of a 16-year-old during a 1980 home-invasion robbery in Santa Monica, police said Thursday.

Authorities from Santa Monica and Shaler Township, Pa., arrested Patrick David Salmon on May 17 at his home in the small town outside Pittsburgh after a nearly two-year investigation that led detectives across the country.

Police said they have evidence linking Salmon to the fatal shooting of Joaquin Mansion during a robbery on Marine Street 32 years ago.

"These kinds of cases you have to have a lot of patience," said Santa Monica Det. Larry Nicols, who  reopened the case about two years ago.

Nicols said one key to locating the suspect was matching a known nickname with the suspect's full name. Detectives "interviewed a lot of people," Nicols said. Police also benefited from "substantial improvements in electronic law enforcement and open-source databases," according to a Santa Monica Police Department statement.

Using leads, detectives traveled to Illinois, South Dakota and Pennsylvania before arriving in Shaler Township two weeks ago.

Nicols said Salmon, who was born and reared in Pittsburgh, was married and had worked as a surveyor but at the time of his arrest was "at home collecting disability because of an accident." "For 32 years he was living like John Q. Citizen," Nicols said.

Mansion and friends were hanging out at the Marine Street home at the time of the 1980 robbery. "He was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time," Nicols said. "He was sitting closest to the door and got a bullet in the head." Nicols speculated that Salmon had gotten "some bad information" that the property was a drug house.

In the months after Mansion's murder, two juvenile co-conspirators were convicted in the robbery and homicide, police said. But the adult gunman, a transient known to acquaintances only by a nickname, was never identified. Salmon was booked in 1984 in Santa Monica on a charge of aggressive panhandling. He also traveled to Ohio and Florida, Nicols said.

Salmon was being held in the Allegheny County Jail awaiting extradition, police said.

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--Martha Groves

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