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Man arrested in Fla. cops to ‘85 boro slay

A former Bronx man who was a fugitive for 23 years in an East Elmhurst murder case was apprehended in Florida by 115th Precinct detectives earlier this month, police said.

Fernando Proenza-Madruga, 57, was arrested at his home in Florida and extradited to New York City, where he was arraigned April 11 on second-degree murder charges, the Queens district attorney's office said.

On Jan. 15, 1985, three Bronx bodega co-workers got into a fight. Two of them, Barbaro Diaz and Proenza-Madruga, beat 38-year-old Victor Paz before Proenza-Madruga fatally shot him, police said.

In an attempt to dispose of the evidence, the two men drove the body to East Elmhurst in a van, police said. As Diaz and Proenza-Madruga were trying to light the vehicle on fire at 26-18 Junction Blvd., they were spotted by Sanitation Department employees, who succeeded in chasing down Diaz, police said.

Proenza-Madruga, however, escaped. He fled to Florida, police said, where he spent the next 23 years quietly. Proenza-Madruga was making a living as a pizza deliveryman in Naples, Fla., when U.S. marshals, Collier County sheriff's deputies and NYPD detectives arrested him April 7, sheriff's arrest records show.

Proenza-Madruga was taken to a local station house and reportedly cracked when he learned the investigators were from New York City.

"When he was interviewed by Detective [Daniel] Corey, he made a full confession to his participation," a police source said. "It took about 20 minutes."

Corey, the precinct's homicide coordinator, works the cold cases when current murders are slow, a police source said.

Detectives learned Proenza-Madruga emigrated to the United States during a Cuban boat lift in 1980, police said. From old immigration records, they traced his mother to Naples, Fla. Records also showed she had a son by a different name, police said. This turned out to be Proenza-Madruga's alias, Salvador Moreno, police said.

NYPD detectives were able to confirm the alias when local police sent them a copy of Moreno's driver's license photo, police said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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