A Santa Rosa man was charged with murder Thursday in the stabbing death of a homeless woman whose body was found near a popular trick-or-treating spot the morning after Halloween in 2012.
Police said DNA evidence tied Jessy Zetino, 22, to the slaying of Michela Wooldridge, 24, whose body was found on a Fourth Street sidewalk before dawn nearly two years ago on Nov. 1.
On Thursday, Zetino made his first court appearance since his arrest Tuesday. He postponed entering a plea, asking for more time to hire a lawyer.
He was ordered to return Aug. 29.
Outside court, his uncle, Santos Zetino, blamed the killing on drugs. He said his nephew told him he had taken 100 hits of LSD around that time and thought demons were telling him to “sacrifice somebody.”
The uncle didn’t say whether Zetino confessed but urged authorities to look for a person he said gave Zetino the psychedelic drug.
“What I want the public to know is he was high on LSD,” Santos Zetino told reporters. “He had seen demons.”
Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Dave Linscomb said Zetino is believed to have been using drugs of some kind. But he couldn’t say whether he was hallucinating or if that was a factor in the killing.
The knife attack is thought to be random, Linscomb said. Zetino and Wooldridge had never met until they encountered each other on the street that night, he said.
She was stabbed multiple times. Her body was found a block from the historic McDonald Avenue neighborhood where Zetino had attended Halloween parties, Linscomb said.
He also lived nearby.
For months, detectives could not find Wooldridge’s killer, and the case went cold after leads were exhausted. A break came earlier this year after Zetino was arrested in a drug case and gave a routine DNA sample.
The sample matched evidence in a national database that connected him to the slaying.
He was out of custody Tuesday when officers spotted him near downtown Santa Rosa. Zetino began to flee but surrendered, Linscomb said.