A man linked to a 1991 cold case murder investigation in Grand Rapids was executed by lethal injection in Texas Thursday night, and admitted to two murders moments before the lethal injection was administered
Rodrigo Hernandez was put to death around 7:00 p.m. EST in San Antonio.
Minutes before his death, Texas authorities say that Hernandez agreed to talk to Texas Rangers. During his interview, Hernandez admitted to the 1991 killing of Muriel Stoepker. According to the rangers, Hernandez said he paid Stoepker for a sexual favor, when his gun accidentally went off, killing her.
Thursday, Hernandez also admitted to the murder of Susan Verstegen, whom investigators said he sexually assaulted and strangled as she was stocking shelves at a grocery store back in 1994.
In 2009, the Kent County Metro Cold Case Team took a second look at the Stoepker case. Because of the advances in the technology and capabilities of the Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory, a DNA profile was developed which matched Hernandez.
In 2010, DNA evidence linked Hernandez to the murder of Muriel Stoepker in Grand Rapids. Stoepker was shot and killed near Grand Rapids Community College in 1991. Hernandez refused to talk, however, pending the outcome of his appeals.
Stoepker was known as the 'bag lady', frequently seen carrying plastic bags while walking around town.
Hernandez was not tried for Stoepker's murder in Michigan since he was already on death row in Texas.
DNA tests performed on Hernandez in Michigan actually helped led to charges for tje 1994 murder in Texas,leading to his death sentence.