A Queens mother — still haunted by the memory of finding her daughter dead in bed four years ago — finally has a shot at justice.
A DNA match has linked a man already behind bars upstate to the 2009 rape and murder of Carmen Saldana, a stunning 23-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Restaurant worker Jose Martinez, 30, confessed to choking Saldana to death and has been indicted on murder and rape charges, sources said.
He is expected to be arraigned Thursday — and Saldana’s mom will be there watching. Martinez also faces charges of kidnapping, burglary, unlawful imprisonment and criminal possession of stolen property.
“I hope justice is served to this animal,” Susana Saldana, 57, told the Daily News. “He destroyed my life. I want him to pay for what he did.”
The still-grieving mom remembers that fateful day like it was yesterday.
She was returning home from the Hamptons, where she works in the summer cleaning homes, and had tried several times in vain to reach her daughter by phone.
When the mom got back to the Astoria home she shared with her daughter, the family cat, Vasco, was sitting on a chair in the bedroom. And the cat was staring at Carmen, who was just a few feet away in bed.
“I said, ‘Carmen, you fell asleep,’ ” the mother recalled. “I raised the blanket and my little girl was dead.”
On July 12, 2009, Carmen Saldana had been drinking at a party in Long Island City. She was alone when she left, police sources said. On her way home, she ran into Martinez, who himself had been drinking at a bar.
The suspect later told detectives Saldana was drunk and he wanted to make sure she wasn’t in danger.
“I wanted to help her get home,” he said, according to a source.
When they arrived at her apartment, she resisted his advances, sources said. But Martinez allegedly forced his way into the apartment, breaking the chain on the door to get inside and attack the victim, who tried in vain to fight him off. The malicious killer choked her with one bare hand around her throat and another clamped over her mouth.