Thanks to persistence and modern technology, Union City police believe they have cracked a nearly 30-year-old cold case murder.
The breakthrough came earlier this month when Union City investigators arrested Donald Wilson, 68, at his Santa Clara home on Feb. 16 in connection to the murder of Michael Barbato. Barbato's body was found wrapped in a blanket in an abandoned car in Union City on May 9, 1983.
Barbato, a 29-yearold Hayward man and known drug dealer, was reported missing December 15, 1982, according to police.
His body was discovered several months later after officers responded to reports of a strong odor coming a 1963 Ford Ranchero parked on the 32500 block of Almaden Boulevard. The body was in "an advanced state of decomposition," indicated that he may have been dead for five months, police said.
He died of blunt trauma to the head, according to Cmdr. Ben Horner.
According to police, Barbato sold cocaine to Wilson regularly and that Wilson, a Hayward resident at the time, was one of the last people to have contact with Barbato before his disappearance.
The case went cold until it was recently reviewed and reopened by investigators.
According to Horner, Officer Chris Leete, who was working light duty in the office due to an injury, came across the case files and took it to Detective Jean Luevano. Luevano reopened the case, interviewing witnesses and using new technology to reexamine forensic evidence which led to Wilson's arrest.
Wilson is being held at Santa Rita Jail without bail.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the at 510-471-1365. Anonymous tips can be left at 510-675-5207 or by emailing email@example.com.
Sign up for breaking and daily news alerts at unioncity.patch.com/newsletters and get stories like this sent directly to your email.