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Homicide suspect Francisco Miranda arrested after nearly 20 years on the run

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 25 2013 10:43:32 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2013 06:02:38 PM CST

Officials in Northampton County have announced an arrest in a case of murder dating back to the mid-1990s.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

One of Pennsylvania's top 10 fugitives is now behind bars, thanks to the persistence of Bethlehem police.

Francisco Miranda is accused of stabbing a man to death nearly 19 years ago before going on the lam. He told police he's been looking over his shoulder ever since.

Part of the neighborhood where the homicide happened has been torn down and rebuilt.

The houses may have changed, but police said but the facts remain the same.

Jorge Velsaquez was stabbed in the heart on June 12, 1994, and dropped off at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, Lehigh Co., where he died, police said.

Bethlehem police figured out Velasquez was stabbed after a group of people were playing dominoes at a home in the 600 block of Aaron Street on the city's south side, near the former Bethlehem Steel.

Witnesses claimed they saw Miranda, then 30, stab Velasquez, also 30. Miranda then disappeared, police said.

Detective Mark Diluzio was working in vice back then and helped homicide detectives search for Miranda.

"I do remember the scene. I do remember the people involved and the emotions at that time, and it does leave a mark on you," said Diluzio.

Six years later, Diluzio, now a homicide detective, reopened the cold case and started tracking Miranda. Call it good old-fashioned police work or persistence, it paid off.

Miranda was located in the Dominican Republic, and the wheels were set in motion to catch him and bring him back to be prosecuted.

After nearly 19 years and a lot of teamwork between state, federal and international law enforcement, Miranda is now behind bars in the Northampton County Prison.

"You can run but you can't hide. We are going to to continue to come after you using every resource  available, federal, state and loca,l to bring you to justice," said Chief Jason Schiffer, Bethlehem Police Dept.

"We do believe that, even though time has passed and it is a case that is essentially 20-years-old, we believe that this case can be successfully prosecuted," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.