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3 Arrested In San Jose Cold Case Fatal Stabbing From 2001

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Two brothers and a third man were arrested as suspects in a cold case Halloween night homicide from 20 years ago in San Jose after detectives developed new leads in the case, police said Monday.

On October 31, 2001, 22-year-old Nhin Phi Ha was stabbed to death in front of his apartment on the 500 block of Avalani Avenue by two assailants, in a seemingly unprovoked attack.

Nhin Phi Ha
Nhin Phi Ha (San Jose Police Department)

A friend of Ha's was also stabbed multiple times but survived his injuries. San Jose police said the two attackers fled in a SUV driven by a third suspect.

"This was a completely random attack. The suspects did not know the victim, for whatever reasons, decided to attack him that day," said Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

Detectives worked the case over the course of the past 20 years, but the leads they developed did not lead to any arrests. In August, the case was assigned to a police department and district attorney's office cold case team. According to police, re-interviewed several witnesses, who apparently had a "change of heart."

"They actually went and re-interviewed witnesses for whatever reasons decided to become more cooperative," said Camarillo. "Maybe they weren't involved with what they were involved with 20 years ago today. They were more forthcoming. Our detectives, with that new information, were able to corroborate some stuff that they already knew."

"When you really are holding something in for so long that you know was directly related to someone's death, you can only carry a dark secret like this for so long," said Camarillo.

San Jose cold case murder suspects
(l-r) Francis Dagayray, Eutropio Dagayay, Gilbert Meriales (San Jose Police Department)

Last Wednesday, members of the police department's Covert Response Unit located and arrested all three suspects in San Jose. They were identified as San Jose residents Francis Dagayray, 45; Eutropio Dagayray, 47; and Gilbert Meriales, 45.

The three were booked into Santa Clara County Jail for homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and gang enhancements.

The San Jose Police Department has not yet been able to reach Ha's family to inform them of the arrests, because phone numbers and other contact information have since become outdated.

Kiet Do contributed to this story.

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