Sunnyvale: Suspect Identified in 1979 Cold Case Murder of Estella Mena
Above: File photo of Estella Mena
(Photos courtesy of Sunnyvale Dept. of Public Safety)
Santa Clara County authorities have announced the identification of a primary suspect in connection with a cold case murder in Sunnyvale.
According to a press release by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, Estella Elena Mena, an 18-year-old security guard, was fatally assaulted at a business located at 444 De Guigne Drive in Sunnyvale on October 27, 1979. Despite extensive investigative efforts over the years, the identity of the perpetrator remained unknown, and the case went cold.
In October 2022, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, submitted a DNA profile from the crime scene for Forensic Investigative Genealogy analysis. This led to new leads in the investigation. Later DNA collection operations helped eliminate one individual as a suspect while identifying a second DNA profile linked to the victim.
Through CODIS (the national DNA database), the suspect was positively identified as Samuel Silva, born on March 29, 1961. Further investigations in both Sunnyvale and Colorado, where Silva had lived, reportedly confirmed his connection to the case.
Samuel Silva had a significant criminal history, including sexual assault and violent crimes, authorities said. He passed away in Colorado in 2008.
Despite Silva’s death, Sunnyvale Detectives conducted extensive searches, gathered additional evidence implicating Silva in the homicide, and conducted multiple interviews. With the approval of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit, the investigation into Estella Elena Mena’s murder has been officially closed, authorities said.