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Authorities identify convicted killer as suspect in 1997 double homicide [Updated]

November 5, 2009 |  1:05 pm

A felon serving time in state prison for killing of a North Hollywood woman in 2001 has been linked through DNA evidence to a double homicide four years earlier in the same neighborhood, authorities said today.

Rafael Martinez was convicted in the 2001 fatal stabbing of Luz Nieves in her home. He was in prison when detectives submitted DNA evidence from the double slaying of Nancy Boehm, 57, and her mentally impaired son, Shawn, 23.

The victims were found in separate bedrooms of their home in the 5700 block of Riverton Avenue in North Hollywood.

[Updated at 2 p.m.: Police believe that Nancy Boehm was selling drugs to supplement her income and that the killing was narcotics-related.

DNA was collected at the time, but testing found no match.

"During that time, we did not possess the technology that was necessary to conduct a thorough investigation," said Lt. Alan Hamilton of the LAPD's North Hollywood Division.

The case was revisited a few months ago at the behest of Det. Thomas Townsend, who asked that a DNA analyst to look over the case for possible clues. DNA collected from under Nancy Boehm's fingernails was retested, and police got a partial match with Martinez.

That partial match, combined with the proximity of the 1997 and 2001 killings, led them to Martinez, Townsend said.

"Although it is often described as a cold case, we've stayed with this case because of ... the particularly brutal nature of this murder," Hamilton said. "You basically have two people in a house and they're basically slaughtered."

Martinez is still in the custody of the state Department of Corrections and is expected to be transferred to a Los Angeles jail to be charged in the near future.]

Neighbors said Nancy Boehm was an assembly worker for General Motors until she was laid off several years before her death. Shawn Boehm, who had played basketball in the Special Olympics, was often seen riding his bike or walking along the street, neighbors said at the time.

-- Raja Abdulrahim and Andrew Blankstein