After a search that lasted much of Tuesday afternoon, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man on suspicion of homicide in connection with the discovery of a woman’s body in a southeast Bakersfield garage.
Twenty-year-old Eddie David Rivas of Bakersfield was taken into custody at about 3:50 p.m. at the apartment of his brother Israel Rivas and sister-in-law, in the 3400 block of Edison Highway.
Eddie Rivas is expected to face one felony count of first-degree murder, according to Kern County sheriff’s Lt. Todd Bishop.
The incident, in the 900 block of Vista Street, began when deputies received a “suspicious circumstances” call from the southeast Bakersfield neighborhood at 9:33 a.m. Tuesday, according to Senior Deputy Victor Keesey.
“When deputies arrived, they contacted the homeowner, who directed them to a detached garage behind the house,” Keesey said. “There was a foul odor coming from the garage. ... when deputies went into the garage, they found the deceased in the garage.”
Deputies cordoned off the 900 block of Vista Street — southwest of Niles and Oswell streets — and three residences in the 3000 block of Center Street immediately southeast of where the body was found. Keesey said the department’s investigation led to Rivas.
“He was at or near the scene when detectives arrived,” Keesey said. “He fled prior to the deputies arriving on scene.”
The age and identity of the body in the garage was unknown, Keesey said, as were the circumstances of how it came to be in the garage. The Kern County Coroner’s Office is expected to perform an autopsy Thursday to determine the manner and cause of the woman’s death.
One neighbor who was at home as the incident unfolded said an unknown man passed through his family’s backyard Tuesday morning.
Seventeen-year-old Kendall Black of Bakersfield said his grandmother and brother were in their backyard when a “Hispanic male, (in a) white T-shirt and some jeans, jumps the fence where they were at.” Black’s dog Socks, a mixed breed, was also in the back yard when the man arrived, he said.
“The dog grabbed his leg, and he kept on going,” Black said, adding that when Socks grabbed the man’s leg, a bloody knife fell out of the man’s pants.
“A steak knife, the kind you use to cut your dinner with,” Black said. “It was in his pants and it fell out.”
As sheriff’s detectives and technical investigators continued to probe the crime scene, at 1:10 p.m., a member of the department escorted a woman wearing jeans and a blue sleeveless top with white polka-dots from the residence where the body was found to an unmarked Sheriff’s Office car, and drove away with her in the front seat. Shortly after, a man who said he was Rivas’ brother arrived and said he was bringing his mother a pack of Marlboro Lights.
Israel Rivas said that the house with the garage where the body was found is the residence of his mother, Claire Rivas; her boyfriend, Alejandro; and Eddie Rivas.
“A lot of (expletive) is going on in my family. I just know my brother’s got issues,” said Israel Rivas, 33. “My mom’s friends told me that they came (to her house) Monday, and they were going to take (Eddie) to the mental hospital and that he had cut his hand open.”
Unfortunately, Israel Rivas said, when they arrived at the hospital, his mother and her two friends were unable to coax Eddie Rivas out of the truck.
Israel Rivas confirmed that a body was discovered Tuesday.
“I guess my mom and her boyfriend were cleaning up and they smelled the smell, and they went to the room and they went to go throw the carpet away and that’s when they found it,” Israel Rivas said, referring to the garage. “They went in there and started rolling up the carpet, and a shoe fell out.”
Israel Rivas said he had no idea about the identity of the body. Rivas said he wanted to locate his brother before sheriff’s deputies did and convince him to turn himself in.
“I want him to turn himself in. It would look more better,” Israel Rivas said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Senior Deputy Michael Whorf declined to discuss the woman whom sheriff’s personnel drove away from the scene, or to discuss the circumstances that led up to the discovery of the body.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the case to call 861-3110.