Man Pleads Not Guilty In 1975 Slaying

Leon Johnson Accused In Death Of Masseuse Luz Borrayo

A former Camp Pendleton Marine serving a life sentence in Mississippi for murder pleaded not guilty Monday to killing a masseuse in a downtown San Diego massage parlor in 1975.

Leon Johnson, 57, was extradited to San Diego last week in connection with the Nov. 22, 1975, murder of Luz Borrayo.

Judge David Szumowski ordered the defendant held without bail pending an Aug. 2 hearing.

According to court documents, San Diego police were called to the Twilight Massage Parlor on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp District after someone called to say the 27-year-old Borrayo had been beaten and knocked out by a patron.

A woman who worked at the massage parlor told police that two patrons came in the night of the murder, and that she helped one of the men and Borrayo helped the other man, who gave the name "Leon," according to court documents.

The woman said the man she was helping said he was a Marine from Ohio who wanted a free massage with "all of the extras," then grabbed her and pulled her onto a couch in the lobby.

While the woman was able to get away, she said Borrayo was in a room with the man who called himself "Leon" for 45 to 50 minutes.

During that time, the woman said she heard a couple of thumps on the wall. She said the two men eventually left and she found Borrayo lying on the floor.

According to a detective, Borrayo's body was partially clothed and a piece of material had been knotted and tied around her neck.

An autopsy showed that the victim died from asphyxiation due to strangulation.

No suspects were identified at the time, but in 2002, a member of the San Diego Police Department's cold-case team submitted evidence for testing, and authorities obtained a DNA profile of Borrayo's unknown killer and entered it into a DNA database, eventually getting a "hit" on Johnson's profile.

Johnson is serving a life prison sentence in Mississippi for the 1982 murder of a 55-year-old convenience store clerk in Meridian.