Anaheim detectives arrest suspect in 1998 cold-case murder of his ex-girlfriend


A 52-year-old transient from Fullerton has been arrested for the 1998 cold-case murder of his former girlfriend, whose decomposed body was found buried under clothing in her closet, the Anaheim PD said in a news release Thursday.

John Augustin is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Orange County Jail.

Augustin was arrested Wednesday for the murder of Irene Ruelaz, 41, after APD detectives spent months reexamining the case in a joint investigation with the Orange County Homicide Task Force.

Thursday afternoon, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges against Augustin.

The APD would not disclose what new evidence surfaced that allegedly links Augustin to the crime.

Ruelaz was reported missing by family members on April 24, 1998.

About a week later, on May 3, 1998, Ruelaz’ mother and daughter went to her apartment at 1781 W. Ball Road No. 4 to retrieve property and detected a foul odor coming from inside the apartment.

Anaheim police officers forced entry into the residence and found Ruelaz’ decomposed body.

Ruelaz’ family members immediately suspected her ex-boyfriend, Augustin, of being involved due to previous abusive behavior toward Ruelaz, according to the news release.

At the time a criminal case was not filed, the release said.

“Detectives from the Homicide/Major Assaults Detail work tirelessly to bring justice to our victim’s surviving family members,”Anaheim PD Sgt. Jeff Mundy said. “It is particularly gratifying when we can bring the news of an arrest to a family who believes their loved one’s murder was forgotten long ago.

“That just is not the case.”