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On the lam: 27-year fugitive arrested in 1985 love-triangle murder

Abel Avila is shown in his more recent driver's license photograph.
Abel Avila is shown in his more recent driver's license photograph.

Los Angeles police announced a surprise arrest in a very old L.A. murder case, catching a man who they say had moved to San Jose, changed his name and lived on the lam for 27 years.

Abel Avila, now 57, has been wanted ever since a 30-year-old Los Angeles man named Arnulfo Medina was shot and killed on July 10, 1985 in a love-triangle murder, police said yesterday in a statement.

He was arrested Tuesday in San Jose after officers found him living under an alias and carrying a fake driver’s license.

According to police, Avila shot and killed his sister’s boyfriend 27 years ago because the man was having an adulterous affair with another of Avila’s relatives -- something that upset Avila so much he was allegedly willing to kill over it.

As described in the statement released yesterday, that night in 1985, at about 8:30 p.m., “Medina was walking with his girlfriend in the area of 37th Street and Main Street when the suspect, 30-year-old Abel Avila, who is the girlfriend’s brother, approached in his car and confronted Medina. Avila pulled out a gun and shot Medina, killing him.”

Somehow, investigators from the LAPD’s Newton Station caught a tip that Avila was living in San Jose. They traveled there and “after a long surveillance, a probation search, followed by more hours of surveillance,” located the fugitive and arrested him.

He was taken back to Newton Station and booked on murder charges.