Vancouver police say a man wanted in the shooting death of his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend 12 years ago has been found hiding under a fake identity in California.

Police in Los Angeles arrested 33-year-old Ninderjit Singh last Friday after confirming his identity with fingerprints obtained after a traffic stop.

"It was believed that Singh had assumed a false identity, had radically changed his appearance and worked as a long-haul truck driver," Vancouver police Insp. Brad Demarais said Tuesday.

The once slender man now weighs about 300 pounds, has a large, bushy beard and was allegedly using a false U.S. Social Security number.

Police had searched for him after Poonam Randhawa was found murdered in a lane near her Vancouver high school in January 1999, and say he had narrowly escaped arrest several times before.


Ninderjit Singh, left, in 2011 and right, in 1999. (Santa Monica PD)

Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke said he can't remember when any announcement has given him so much pleasure, as the force wraps up one of the longest pursuits in its history.

"In a world where everyone wants instant gratification, it's easy to abandon cases that aren't solved," Lemcke said.

Suspect had help, police say

Police wouldn't describe exactly what information led them to discover Singh's location because the case will be going before the courts. However, they alleged the man's family — who live in both Canada and the U.S. — helped him "evade justice."

Police are still examining whether any charges are warranted against those individuals, Desmarais said.

"Right now we're kind of basking in the glow of having this guy."

The investigation has cost the force more than $500,000.

Singh is now in custody awaiting extradition from Los Angeles

With files from the CBC's Chad Pawson, Meera Bains and The Canadian Press