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Schwarzenegger increases reward in murder case

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has upped the ante in hopes $50,000 in reward money will shed new light on the 10-year-old murder of Louise Macias of Merced.

The governor added $40,000 to the original $10,000 reward posted by former Gov. Pete Wilson. Macias, 74, was killed May 29, 1997, in her Merced apartment, and the case remains unsolved. Schwarzenegger increased the rewards in six murder cases involving 10 people killed in Fresno, Hayward, Pomona, San Mateo and Stanton areas.

A neighbor discovered Macias' battered body about 1:25 p.m. in the Barney Street apartment. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma.

Detective Sgt. Scott Skinner of the Merced Police Department hopes the reward will spark the languishing murder probe. He has been working on the case since 2004 and said detectives have resubmitted evidence for DNA testing and are doing follow-up interviews.

Sylvia Mariscal, Macias' daughter, believes one of her mother's neighbors killed her, someone familiar with when she received her checks.

Skinner said one little piece of information could solve a long-cold case like this one.

He said rewards work and someone needing help with the judicial system might give information police are seeking.

Merced Police Chief Russ Thomas asked for the reward fund to be increased.

Under the governor's reward program, 214 rewards have been offered since 1967 and 18 have been paid.

The reward process is initiated when the governor receives a written request from the chief of the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the matter.

Rewards are granted if all leads have been exhausted and victims' families support the reward.

Rewards do not expire and are only paid if the information leads to the arrest and conviction in a California court of the individual or individuals charged with the crime.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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