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East County family says arrest made in loved ones' cold case

Posted at 7:23 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 16:22:52-04

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - Nineteen years is a long time.

"He didn't have a mean bone is his body,” Arleen Poag said at her Spring Valley home.

It's been 19 years of birthdays, 19 Thanksgivings and 19 Christmases since Poag and her family lost their loved ones, 30-year-old Patrick Greene and his 17-year-old nephew Brandon Christopher Vigil.

"For him to go that way, it was just so tragic because Patrick would never hurt anybody," Poag said when speaking about what Greene was like.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, on Jan. 21, 2003, Greene and Vigil were found shot to death in the 2100 block of Willow Glen Drive in the El Cajon area.

"We knew it was going to be solved. We just didn't know when because it had been so long,” Poag said.

But that all changed with one phone call that Poag said she got from the sheriff's department on Thursday.

"I got the call this morning from the detective, and she told me that they made the arrest last night,” Poag said.

Poag's brother and Brandon’s father told ABC 10News he was his sister's first call after getting the news.

“It's been 19 years. You start to think that at that point it's never going to happen. And suddenly you're hit with this, and it was a sort of relief for me,” Charles Vigil said.

In a news release, sheriff’s officials stated:

“An extensive investigation was performed, but did not yield a suspect. Sheriff's Homicide Cold Case Team kept working on the case and in March of 2022 developed new evidence pointing to Michael Romero (DOB 05/22/1976). Once the investigation focused on Romero, detectives established probable cause to arrest him for the murders of Vigil and Greene. The new evidence in this case is being withheld as the case is being actively prosecuted.

On Wednesday, April 13 just after 7:00 p.m., agents from the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Romero near his house in National City. Romero was booked into the San Diego Central Jail for two counts of Murder -187(a) PC. Sheriff's Homicide Detectives notified the families of Vigil and Greene regarding the arrest.”

To say this family is happy is an understatement.

"I think my mom will have peace of mind now. I'm sorry that my stepdad died of cancer two years ago and not be able to see this,” Poag said. “But I'm sure he's up there and he knows and maybe he had a little help in it you know."

Even after learning about the arrest from detectives, Willow Glen Drive will still be a part of their family's past.

"I'm still going look at the spot where they lost their lives. But now I am a little happier because we do have closure,” Poag said.

Nineteen years of waking up and going to bed wondering when, maybe even if, this day would come.

"There's been many a night like that. Tonight, I will sleep easier, and I will sleep a little better knowing he's off of the streets,” Vigil said.