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Man who committed suicide in 1999 linked to 2 O.C. cold case killings: Officials

A man who died in 1999 was later tied to two cold case killings in Orange County, officials announced Monday.

Shannon Rose Lloyd, 23, was found dead in a room she rented in Garden Grove on May 21, 1987.

An autopsy determined she had been sexually assaulted and was strangled, officials said. The investigation went cold after all leads were pursued to no avail.

Then, in 2003, the Orange County Crime Lab linked Lloyd’s killing with a 1989 cold case investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

In that incident, Renee Cuevas, 27, was found dead along Lambert Road near El Toro Marine Base on Feb. 19, 1989.

Last year, the Orange County District Attorney’s Investigative Genetic Genealogy team identified a possible suspect in the killings.

The man, 39-year-old Reuben J. Smith, of Las Vegas, however, had committed suicide in 1999, officials said. Smith had lived in Orange County in the 1980s before moving to the Las Vegas area.

A year before his death, Smith was arrested in Las Vegas for sexually assaulting and attempting to kill a third woman, according to the DA’s office.

DNA evidence from Smith’s 1998 arrest and the DNA profile found at the Lloyd and Cuevas homicide scenes were a positive match.

“The outcome of these cases reflects Orange County law enforcement’s dedication to seeking answers and solving complex crimes,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “It reinforces our commitment to the community that no matter how much times passes, we remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice and the work to bring closure to the victims’ families.”

“The loved ones of Renee Cuevas and Shannon Lloyd have the answers to the question they have been asking for more than three decades,” DA Todd Spitzer said. “The justice that every victim deserves was hidden away in DNA, but with advances in IGG technology combined with the relentless dedication of generations of detectives and the talented prosecutors and forensic scientists at the District Attorney’s Office, we now know who killed Renee and Shannon. Justice does not have an expiration date. Whether a crime happened forty years ago or four minutes ago, the residents of Orange County can have confidence that the law enforcement in this county will not rest until justice is served.”

Shannon Lloyd’s older brother described his sister as “tough.”

“It’s hard for me to fathom how anyone can take another person’s life and just discard them,” Tom Lloyd told Orange County officials.

The surviving victim in the 1998 attack called her assailant “evil.”

“I know if I didn’t fight, I was going to die” she said. “It was horrible. The things that he did, the things that he said. He told me he was going to kill me.”

Anyone with additional information about Smith’s activities when he was living in Orange County is asked to call Garden Grove Police Detective T. Ramirez at 714-741-5839 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

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