The number of homicides in Kern County increased slightly overall as slayings in Bakersfield nearly doubled from last year.
But police have repeatedly said throughout the year that Bakersfield’s homicide total of 15 in 2007 was an aberration and the numbers weren’t expected to stay that low. This year’s total of 27 was comparable to the 23 slayings police investigated in 2006 or the 31 in 2005.
“This year’s numbers were about average for us,” Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Aldana said.
The total number of homicides in the county was 62, Supervising Deputy Coroner John Van Rensselaer said.
Last year’s total was 56.
Homicides investigated by the Sheriff’s Department plummeted this year in part because there were far fewer gang-related killings than in years past, Senior Deputy Michael Whorf said. He did not have exact numbers of gang-related killings, but he said several people within the department told him those numbers were down.
Deputies investigated 22 homicides in 2008 compared with 35 in 2007.
The killings of Joseph and Dorothy Parrott were among the more puzzling homicides of the past year. The investigation was pretty much at a standstill when one of the suspected killers confided to a youth minister who then went to police.
Joseph Parrott, 81, and Dorothy Parrott, 77, were found dead in their southwest Bakersfield home on Aug. 6. They were allegedly beaten and stabbed to death by two teens who had planned to rob the house because it was poorly lit and there was no car in the driveway, police said.
Police Sgt. Aldana said it was definitely one of the more unusual cases they’ve handled in the past year. And the suspects in that case — Kyle Hoffman, 17, and Luis Palafox, 16 — weren’t the only teens in the spotlight for criminal activities.
Four juveniles were convicted of beating 81-year-old Ezequiel Jimenez Perez to death and were sentenced to 25 years to life. They can only be held until their 25th birthdays, however, because they were tried as juveniles.
A fifth juvenile in that case was found incompetent to stand trial.
And four juveniles were among six people arrested in connection with a fatal shooting on Nov. 22. All of the suspects will be tried as adults.
Another bizarre case that wasn’t included in this year’s list was the discovery of the remains of two juveniles in a storage shed in August. They weren’t included because the coroner’s office said the remains were so deteriorated that the juveniles died at least a couple of years ago.
Alicia Valadez, the suspect in the case, died in early 2008 from symptoms usually seen from drug use, the coroner’s office said.
The killings of 2008 were also a reminder that most cases aren’t solved overnight, or even within a few weeks. Of the 62 homicides, there are 26 in which either no charges have been filed or there are no suspects. — Jason Kotowski, staff writer
Jan. 9: Victor Noel Rodriguez, 28, of Salinas was fatally shot and was found in a citrus field northwest of the intersection of Tejon Highway and Edison Highway. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
Jan. 13: Michael Pasillas, 27, died after being stabbed a week earlier in the area of East 18th and Gage streets in Bakersfield. In May, police arrested Abrand Salazar Bravo in connection with Pasillas’ death, but Bravo was released and the investigation was ongoing.
Jan. 26: Alta Marie Dodd, 74, was stabbed to death at her home at 2314 Thomas Way in Delano. Charles Cory Shults, of Delano, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial and was committed to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in July.
Feb. 9: Leon Anderson Jr., 36, was shot by police on Feliz Drive after opening fire on officers who tried to question him. Officer Dennis Eddy lost part of his right leg as a result of injuries suffered in the shootout. Anderson was a high-ranking member of the Eastside Crips criminal street gang, police said.
Feb. 28: Antonio Stewart, 21, was shot in the 2500 block of Tricia Court in what police believe was a gang-related killing. Stewart was inside an apartment when he was shot from outside, police said. There are no suspects.
March 12: Becky Tison, 45, was strangled by her husband, Daniel Tison, in their house at 1904 Hodges Ave. in Bakersfield. Daniel Tison then killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning, Bakersfield police said.
March 27: The body of Nicholas Fernando Ramos, 32, was found off Rancheria Road, eight miles north of Highway 178. He died from blunt force trauma to the head. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
April 4: Michael Fitzpatrick shot and killed his 78-year-old mother, Dorothy Fitzpatrick, in their apartment in the 1200 block of Flower Street. The son then shot and killed himself. Tenants said they were both suffering from cancer.
April 11: Jose Zarate, 38, of Wasco was kidnapped and murdered by his wife, Marisela Zarate, and two others, authorities say. He was found April 14 by farmworkers outside the town of Gonzalez. His wife and Sergio De La Cruz are facing capital murder and kidnapping charges in Monterey County Superior Court. Maria De Andrade is facing conspiracy charges.
April 14: Manuel Ayon, 16, was fatally shot by a Kern County sheriff’s deputy after leading deputies on a stolen car chase from McFarland to Delano. The sheriff’s review said the deputies did nothing wrong in the shooting.
April 17: Lora Louise Shine, 44, was tied up with duct tape and suffocated in a house in the 3500 block of Trojes Avenue near Wible Road and Panama Lane. Her boyfriend, James Arthur Wyatt, 61, and Justin Ennis, 21, were charged with second-degree murder and a readiness hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6. Ennis said Wyatt frequently tied Shine up after alcohol-induced fights.
April 22: Rosita Newman, 72, was stabbed and killed in her Boron apartment. Bryan Eckroth was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Eckroth is scheduled to appear in court in February.
April 28: Richard Salcido, 71, fired at police and was fatally shot by Taft Police Sgt. Mike Eveland. Police went to Salcido’s home in the 300 block of F Street after complaints of a disturbance and gunfire. Eveland fired six shots, all of which were ruled justifiable, Lt. Ed Whiting said.
April 29: Kevin Johnson, 29, was punched in the neck on April 26 at the Festival of Beers and died of his injury three days later. Matthew Scott Reed was sentenced to three years in prison for throwing the fatal punch. Johnson died due to a severe injury at the point where the cervical spine connects to the brain.
May 4: Ramon Garcia, 33, was found lying dead in the street at 2:15 a.m. after an apparent assault during a robbery, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department. It happened in the 10400 block of Elmco Avenue in Lamont.
May 9: Juan Ponce, 59, was shot and killed in the front yard of a home at 826 Lomita Drive, near Belle Terrace in Bakersfield. The shooter drove off in a car. There has been no arrests.
May 22: The skeletal remains of a man were found buried in a field southeast of Bakersfield after he was shot and killed. A worker found the shallow grave in an area off of Malaga Road near Hermosa Road and detectives are investigating it as a homicide. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
June 1: Reanna Marie Alderette, 2, in central Bakersfield. Police refused to release any details of Alderette’s death but said there had been no arrests.
June 14: Adam Castro, 23, was stabbed after a fight broke out at a party on the 3600 block of Amur Maple Drive, near White Lane and Gosford Road. Jose Louis Sepulveda, 32, was charged with second-degree murder and a trial was scheduled to begin on Jan. 5.
June 14: Ezequiel Jimenez Perez, 81, was brutally beaten by a group of teen boys in an alley in the 1200 block of Niles Street as he collected cans. He died the next day. The attackers ranged in age from 13 to 15. Four of the boys — William Wandick III, Robert Smith III, Nathaniel Johnson Jr. and Demitris King — were sentenced to 25 years to life but can only be held until they are 25 years old because they were tried as juveniles. The fifth boy, Christopher Jones, was found incompetent to stand trial.
June 19: Ralph Espinoza, 56, died from a gunshot wound in the 400 block of High Street in Delano. Police called the shooting suspicious. The case remains under investigation and no suspects have been identified.
June 21: Steve Carter, 27, a former Bakersfield College basketball player, was stabbed in the neck outside of a Fastrip market on 34th and Q streets. Marquell Watkins later turned himself in to police but no charges were filed because there was evidence that Watkins acted in self-defense, prosecutors said.
June 24: Evelyn House, 82, found burned in a Rosamond trailer fire in the 5000 block of 62nd Street West. May have been a murder-suicide, but not confirmed yet. KCSO.
June 25: Donte Delaney, 29, was shot at an apartment complex near Mt. Vernon Avenue by Bakersfield College. No arrests have been made.
June 27: Youll Kwon, 51, was shot by a robber at his Honey Market on South Union Avenue. Samuel Ramirez-Bravo was charged with first-degree murder and robbery and a pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 13.
July 5: Deandrey Thompson, 26, was shot in the stomach on July 4 in the 200 block of Northrup Street when he was standing outside with a group of people. He died the next day. No arrests have been made.
July 10: Richard L. Redenius, 41, was shot and killed by his stepfather during an intoxicated argument. The stepfather, Clark Harmening, 67, was initially arrested but later released until more investigation could be completed. Harmening committed suicide on Aug. 4.
July 19: Salvador Gandarilla Jr., 19, was shot in Delano in an apparent gang drive-by shooting at 17th Avenue and Jefferson Street. He died on the sidewalk. Delano police arrested Juan Prado, 21, and 17-year-old Jesse Perez III. Both are charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, arson and gang participation. They are set for court hearings in January.
July 23: Ruben Landeros, 33, was strangled in his cell at Wasco State Prison, allegedly by fellow inmate Harold P. Cox, 37. The case remains under review and Cox has not yet been charged. Landeros was a registered sex offender and pleaded no contest to sexual battery in 2001. He was sentenced to five years at Wasco prison.
July 24: Frank Veliz, 39, was stabbed at Leroy Jackson Park in Ridgecrest at 300 E. French Ave. John Edward Griffiths IV, 26, was arrested the next day. He was ordered to stand trial on a murder charge, but is scheduled for a hearing on Jan. 20 on whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.
Aug. 4: Joseph Parrott, 81, and Dorothy Parrott, 77, were found dead in their southwest Bakersfield home on Aug. 6. Two teen boys — Kyle Hoffman, 17, and Luis Palafox, 16 — have been charged with first-degree murder in the slayings. Police believe the boys entered the house on Aug. 4 to burglarize it and then beat and stabbed the Parrotts to death. A pre-preliminary hearing for the teens was scheduled for Feb. 4.
Aug. 7: Adam Maya, 25, was shot in the parking lot of Le Corusse Rouge Restaurant at 4647 White Lane. No arrests have been made.
Aug. 19: Tricia Reyes, would have been 16, date of death unknown, remains found in a storage container at Derrell's Mini Storage on Mount Vernon Avenue near East Brundage Lane. KCSO.
Aug. 19: Victor Reyes, would have been 15, date of death unknown, remains found in a storage container at Derrell’s Mini Storage on Mount Vernon Avenue near East Brundage Lane. KCSO.
Aug. 22: Dennis Grider, 57, was shot and killed in a remote area near Twin Oaks after having an armed confrontation with two men he was living with. Francisco Sumonte, 66, shot and killed Grider after Grider pointed his gun at Sumonte’s son, 41-year-old Domenico Sumonte. Over the course of the week before the shooting, there were several disputes between Grider and Domenico Sumonte. All three men were armed during the final confrontation. The District Attorney’s Office rejected the case, and at this time, the case is closed. The incident happened on private property on Oak Field Way and John Freemont Road.
Aug. 26: Kayli Bearden, 2, died from blunt force trauma to her skull. Melissa Blanchard, 19, was charged with second-degree after admitting to causing trauma to Bearden, who she was taking care of because the child’s father was away, police said. CPR was performed on the child at a home in the 5900 block of Ming Avenue, police said. Bearden was then taken to Mercy Hospital and later to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera, where she died.
Aug. 26: Jim Richard Cozad, 61, was found in a storage shed in the back yard of his home in the 1500 block of South Downs Street in Ridgecrest. The coroner ruled it was a homicide due to multiple blunt force injuries. No arrests have been made.
Aug. 28: Jenny Gomez, 24, was found dead in the Kern River near Delonegha Hot Springs. She was bound with a white cloth and lodged against a boulder. Her boyfriend, Antioco Patino, 32, was arrested in her death. He is scheduled for an arraignment Jan. 5.
Aug. 30: Fernando Arreguin, 26, was shot and killed by his girlfriend’s brother, Ruben Reyna, in the 100 block of Calle Pinuelas in Delano.
Aug. 30: Ruben Reyna, 28, was shot and killed by Delano police officers after he killed his sister’s boyfriend and held police at bay for three hours inside a home in the 100 block of Calle Pinuelas. Officers stormed the house and opened fire on Reyna when he shot at them, police said.
Aug. 30: Guillermo Gonzalez, 2, died after suffering a severe head injury. Josue Daniel Palma Herrera, 32, was arrested in connection with the Shafter boy’s death. Herrera was dating Guillermo’s mother and had been baby-sitting the boy while she was at work and had taken the boy to Wasco from his residence on the 400 block of East Euclid Avenue in Shafter. He is charged with murder and his next court date will be in January.
Sept. 7: Efrain Moreno Lopez, 23, identified in December months after his charred body was found in the trunk of a burning car in the 6600 block of Krebs Road, north of Rosedale Highway and east of Coffee Road. No arrests have been made.
Sept. 9: Louie Matthew Alvarez, 19, was shot in the 1500 block of Monterey Street. Jorge Farias, 21, was charged with first-degree murder and a pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 27.
Sept. 14: Nicholas Duran Sosa, 33, was stabbed to death in the 100 block of Bear Mountain Boulevard in Arvin. Robert Valencia, 35, and Alejandro Garcia, 24, both of Arvin, were put in custody on parole violations, but no charges have been filed. The case remains under investigation.
Sept. 27: Rita Loretta Hammond, 59, was shot and killed allegedly over missing car keys by Jolene McCallister, 57, in the 100 block of Hickerson Drive. McCallister told deputies she repeatedly asked Hammond to return her car keys. Hammond said she didn’t have them. McCallister has been charged with first-degree murder, and hearings are scheduled for early January.
Sept. 28: Carlos Ramirez Jr., 32, was shot and killed a minute after midnight in his hometown of Lamont in the 8600 block of Panama Road. The only suspect information came from reports of a male in a white T-shirt running from the area. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
Oct. 1: Moses Ramiro Villegas, 18, was found dead from a gunshot wound at the base of a Highway 178 pedestrian crossing near College Heights School in northeast Bakersfield. Levi Aaron Macias was arrested in connection with the crime but then released. An investigation was ongoing.
Oct. 6: Derrick Dwayne Gibson, 21, died from multiple gunshot wounds in the 300 block of Hayes Street. Another man, John Henry Bryant, was also shot but survived. Bryant was found not guilty of murder in a retrial for a 2006 shooting death outside the now-defunct Rockin’ Rodeo. No arrests have been made.
Oct. 7: Wendy Garcia, 26, was pronounced brain dead in Antelope Valley Hospital following a knife fight with her live-in boyfriend, Rigoberto Gonzalez, 28, in Rosamond on Oct. 5. She was kept on life support until Oct. 27, but under the law the date of her death was Oct. 7. Gonzalez was also stabbed and was treated at Kern Medical Center, but he has been charged with murder and is awaiting further court hearings in January.
Oct. 12: Brenda Faye Adkins, 51, was found in the north alley of the 600 block of Kentucky Street. An autopsy revealed she died from blunt force trauma, the coroner’s office said. No arrests have been made.
Oct. 13: Chantha Meas, 32, was abducted from her home and shot in the head. Her body was left off Granite Road, two miles north of Round Mountain Road. Jeffrey Paul Chitwood is being held on first-degree murder. Officials said that Chitwood repeatedly sent flowers to Meas and made unwanted advances. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 17.
Oct. 23: Victor Beltran Martinez, 24, was beaten and shot to death in a rural home in the 11200 block of Palm Avenue in McFarland. He went there with $40,000 to buy four pounds of cocaine, deputies said, but was ripped off. No arrests have been made, although investigators are following leads in the case, including a man who rented the trailer before the incident.
Oct. 24: Victor Roberto Gonzalez, 49, was shot and killed in front of a business at 2101 Niles St. Witnesses saw three men in their 20s chasing and attacking Gonzalez as he ran down Niles Street. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.
Oct. 25: Albert Jordan Ortiz, 18, was stabbed in the 400 block of Ninth Street after becoming involved in a fight during a party. Matthew Paul Franco, 20; Andrew Paul Franco, 23; Angelica Marie Villanueva, 23; and Geovanni Cuadras Zepeda, 22, were charged with second-degree murder and a pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 4.
Oct. 27: Arthur Ernest Mendoza, 57, was stabbed to death. Delano police found him after receiving a call. The investigation is ongoing.
Nov. 12: Nadely Mariah Gutierrez, 2, died after suffering blunt force injuries to the head in a southwest Bakersfield home. Victor Manuel Morales, 19, was charged with second-degree murder and a pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 12. Morales had been baby-sitting the child when she was injured, police said.
Nov. 22: David Camberos, 19, was shot at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of 38th Street. Lawrence Lee Dean Jr., 18; Aleric Bernard McDonald, 15; Chad Deonte Scott, 15; Marcus Joel Johnson, 17; Charles Scott, 16; and Justin McCowan, 18, have been charged with first-degree murder. A pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 5.
Nov. 30: Keshawn Black, 21, had just passed the intersection of P Street and California Avenue when bullets fired from another vehicle pierced the driver’s side of the Oldsmobile he was driving. No arrests have been made.
Dec. 23: June Juvon Haydon, 16, was shot to death for unknown reasons when he answered the door to an apartment in east Bakersfield. Sheriff’s officials say the only suspect information is someone seen running from the apartment wearing a black hoodie sweatshirt. It was unknown how many people were involved.
Dec. 25: Luis E. Martinez, 19, shot at 1:46 a.m. in the 3400 block of Loyalton Avenue off Wible Road and north of Panama Lane.
Note: A Californian tally of 2008 homicides totaled 61, but Supervising Deputy Coroner John Van Rennselaer said that number would increase because there are several other deaths in 2008 that will definitely turn out to be homicides.