SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Evidence led them to evil — the San Joaquin Valley man prosecutors say killed five of his newborn children in a cold case that haunted detectives for years and shocked anew on Monday.

The man, Paul Perez, 57, of Delano, faces five counts of murder plus allegations of lying in wait and torture in the slayings. Perez, an inmate at Kern State Prison in Kern County, was days away from being released from prison when a DNA match led to his arrest. Perez is now in Yolo County custody in Woodland and will be arraigned Tuesday in Yolo Superior Court.

Yolo County’s sheriff and district attorney, the state Department of Justice and federal agents announced the news Monday at Yolo County Jail.

“Our investigation revealed a deeply disturbing case: the serial murder of five of his own children. All babies,” Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said.

“Today, we are here because of the science and power of DNA. Victims and killers cannot hide any longer,” Reisig told reporters.

The first victim was found in Yolo County in March 2007, discovered by a fisherman in the water less than a mile from the site of the morning news conference: Nikko Lee Perez, born Nov. 8, 1996, in Fresno. His body, unidentified until last October, was located in a sealed container, weighed down with heavy objects.

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The case haunted Yolo County investigators for more than a decade until a DNA break by a state Department of Justice forensics technician connected Perez to the infant found in Yolo County — and to yet more horror.

“Having an unsolved death of a child on file has haunted my agency for years,” said Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez. “We learned that Nikko was not an only child. Four other children suffered the same fate. All were believed to have been murdered as infants.”

The victims included Kato Allen Perez, born in 1992, who was previously known to be deceased, and Nikko Lee Perez. Three other siblings’ remains have yet to be found. They are Mika Alena Perez, who was born in 1995, a second Nikko Lee Perez, who was born in 1997, and Kato Krow Perez, born in 2001.

Reisig said his office is considering whether to seek the death penalty, despite a state moratorium on capital punishment.

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