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Murder suspect has history of instilling fear in young woman

Court records and police reports reveal prior threats to kill and allegations of stalking before his involvement with murder victim Yadhira Romero Martinez.

MINNEAPOLIS — When she saw the news of the murder of Yadhira Romero Martinez and saw the suspect's picture, Jennifer Ortiz made the connection.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' I was just in shock, because right away I knew this was the kid who had been stalking and harassing my daughter," Ortiz said.

Ortiz said it started at Bloomington Kennedy High School where Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga was a student.

His classmates knew him then as Danny. 

And Ortiz says he would not leave her teenage daughter Mya alone.

"In the hallways he would corner her," Ortiz said. "It got a little bit more scary because she was leaving school one day, and he asked if she wanted a ride. And she said no. And he followed her."

Ortiz said Mya would block Danny on social media, but he created multiple accounts and continued to contact her. Finally, last summer Mya received a Snapchat from Danny showing half his head as he stood outside her workplace.

"We were scared. She was scared to death. So I said, let's just call the police," Ortiz said.

Little did they know, another young woman had already called the police.

On Sep. 30, 2017, in Elk River, a 25-year-old woman called police crying. She told them she worked with Danny, and saw him outside work three or four times, but did not have an intimate relationship with him.

But when Danny found out that she went to a baseball game with an ex-boyfriend, he sent her several texts and a video.

According to the criminal complaint, Danny "sent a message to her that he was going to kill her and that he was going to shoot her in the head. He also sent her a video of himself holding a gun."

Elk River police noted that the woman was very fearful that he would follow through with his threats. 

Sherburne County prosecutors initially charged him with a felony-level charge of Threats of Violence, but he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of Obscene/Harassing Phone Calls, a misdemeanor, and he spent just three days in jail.

The Ortiz family filed a police report in Burnsville in July 2020 concerning the alleged harassment of Mya by Danny. According to the reports, Burnsville officers had trouble finding the suspect, only reaching him by phone on July 7, 2020.

"DANNI was advised to stop attempting to contact MYA, to stop showing up at her employment, and to stop harassing/ stalking her. I advised DANNI if he were to continue doing what he was, he could be charged with a crime," the report states.

But Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga was never charged in that case.

"We did say something. We tried. We really, really tried," Ortiz said.

And now, less than one year later, a young woman in Minneapolis is dead. Cuenca-Zuniga is charged with Murder in the Second Degree.

"It made us sick on Monday morning when we saw the news," Ortiz said. "Mya just cried. It's just awful."

RELATED: Minneapolis man charged with murder in death of 19-year-old woman

RELATED: Family of 19-year-old Yadhira Romero Martinez speak out after man charged in her death

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