But investigators finally caught up with their man, hiding in plain sight and now they're hoping he'll face justice for the vicious murder of Mary Ann O'Neill.
Back in November 1995, the 53-year-old's body was found in the trunk of her car in her Placentia, CA.
She had been killed with a blow to the head.
Pereda, who had moved out about a month before her murder, was immediately suspected, but try as they might, cops couldn't catch up with him and the case went cold.
Then in 2009, Detective Jason Reger dusted off the case file and began an earnest hunt for her killer which would ultimately lead him to Pereda.
A partial fingerprint from the DMV, blew the case wide open, when he cross-referenced it with the national crime database.
That fingerprint matched one from Efran Calderon Castro, who had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Las Vegas – the same place detectives had found Pereda's pickup truck, abandoned, years earlier.
It was enough to bring him in.
Placentia Police Chief Rick Hicks told KTLA: "Not only was Pereda living under an assumed name, but he had adopted a different date of birth and had a Social Security number."
O'Neill's family were delighted with the news.
Her daughter Kelly Gaughran told KABC: "This is a wonderful day but it's bittersweet also, because we still don't have our mom. But at least someone is going to pay for what's been done."
Detectives brought Pereda back to Orange County Wednesday. His bail is set at $1 million.