After completing Bakersfield High School in 2011, Daniela Miramontes was anxious to go to college. She earned grades good enough to get into Cal State Bakersfield, but there was a major hurdle. She had no money, and as an undocumented student her chances of obtaining financial aid from public funds were severely limited.

Enter Jose Arredondo.

Impressed with her drive and enthusiasm for college, Arredondo awarded Miramontes and 14 other undocumented students from humble backgrounds $5,000 each for four years of their education.

"We couldn't stop crying that day," recalls Miramontes. "Our stories and the fact that someone was so nice to give us the money was emotional."

She graduated from CSUB in 2016, currently works for the county and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration. Her goal is to work in law enforcement.

That's why, when news broke about the murder of the well-known businessman this week near Cabo San Lucas, Miramontes said she was incredulous.

"I had to go look it up to see if it was really true that he had died," said Miramontes. "It was so sad."

Her reaction was typical of many other undocumented students, or "Dreamers" as they are called because of their undocumented status. Known mostly for his huge successes as the owner of numerous car dealerships all over Kern County and in Fresno, Arredondo freely admitted his own lack of opportunity in obtaining an education.

Emigrating from Mexico when he was 13 as an undocumented immigrant, his was the classic rags-to-riches story. Already working as a child in Mexico, he continued working in his new country washing cars to help support the family. Perhaps that's one reason Arredondo strongly identified with "Dreamers" who needed help pursuing an education.

"That's why he was so inspirational to us, because like us he knew what it meant to be undocumented," said Miramontes. "But he also said that if he could start over again, he would pursue an education."

I found Arredondo to be a straight talker who said what was on his mind. One of my most poignant memories of him was when, sometime in the 1990s, he branched out and opened a real estate office, a restaurant and a theater at Niles and Baker streets. There was a lot of trash talking — people suspicious that somehow he had obtained all of this through some illegal means.

Rumors were flying that Jose Arredondo was a drug dealer.

I called him about it.

"Those same rumors that you're hearing are the same rumors my loved ones are hearing. And they're vicious," he said, his voice rising. "Come and ask me anything you want for the news and I will answer all of your questions."

We sat down at his office at Family Motors and talked about his business ventures. He felt a lot of the negativity was coming from other business people who were jealous of his success. And then he revealed something else.

"A couple of Bakersfield police officers told me that sooner or later they would catch me," said Arredondo. "They told me they knew I was involved in drugs, and that really upset me."

"Are you a drug dealer?" I asked him.

He didn't flinch, pause or take offense to the question.

"No, I'm not," he answered.

I don't know of any other reputable business owners who would be willing to go on camera and address such an issue.

Another reason Arredondo was respected in the community was that he never forgot his roots and was proud of his heritage.

His parents both performed manual labor, his mother cleaning houses. He attributed his success to advice given him by his parents: Always do what's right and never be impolite.

The homicide investigation is taking place in Cabo San Lucas, and it will most likely be difficult to obtain information from Mexican authorities far removed from Bakersfield.

Retired Lamont businessman Luis Aguilar knew Arredondo for more than 20 years, both being from the state of Michoacan. For years, Aguilar would feed the homeless on Thanksgiving at his popular restaurant, El Pueblo. And Arredondo would be there helping out.

The news that Arredondo had been beaten to death in his home — and, according to some media reports, stabbed — hit Aguilar hard.

"His death gave me great sadness," said Aguilar. "He didn't deserve to die that way."

Contributing columnist Jose Gaspar is a news anchor/reporter for Telemundo Bakersfield and KGET. Email him at elcompa29@gmail.com. The views expressed here are his own.

(30) comments

REMUDA

Well folks . . . good Sunday Morning . . . again. ---- Seems my "old pal" 'Fram Smith' (leader of the pack--an 'outlander') can't make up his/her/their mind about Jose and his demise. Not all folks who crossed the border (long ago and far away) without passports, sanctuary, green cards or Braceros cover were, or are, 'evil' (drugs/$$-involved). And good 'ol Fram continues the diatribe . . . variously attacking and then (bipolar) agreeing . . . with me(?). (and now 'Norma'? in this 'cluster-flop'?) ---- Possibly once met Jose (Family Motors--friendly), but never had an opinion . . . and still don't as now only asking questions (note all my question marks ???) as the 'NEWS' (fake or not) continues . . . here. Since none of us knows, I'm sure the truth will "out" . . . and only be 'judged' by others. ---- As a "Euro" with a Half-Asian 'Mestizo' Son (MS Aero) and half-Latino (4.3 Star Grad) Granddaughter, I'm not at all bigoted . . . as are many of those who attack me personally below. S'ok though. Some friends (Czech, Mex) came here on sanctuary . . . or? . . . needed my help (financial,legal), and are caught up in the new ICE "Border Policy" to suffer the same immigré problem that Mr. Arredondo (had) in regard to his long-ago youthful-chosen entry into the US. ---- President Reagan attempted to overcome, by legitimate means, Jose's same problem that has existed since the mid & late 1800's . . . exacerbated at WWI (The Great War), then after the Great Depression, again during WWII (Mexico was NEUTRAL), and again when Ike closed the Braceros program and, once again much later, as Obama mounted huge mass deportations. But, then, many, like ignoramus Fram, only have personal vendettas(?) to foist . . . as do all those who ignore history and our Constitutional Sovereignty . . . now under attack and expanded upon by MS-13, cartels and other 'true criminals' who have demeaned "The Good Ones" (Trump is extremely selective--"evil goes" v "good stays"). ---- This story will all come out "in the wash" ('Hotwash' for you other Vets) as we see if the Mexican Government allows Mr. Arredondo's remains to be 'returned'(?) to US soil for final services (?). I must hope, like all of you good citizens, Jose had much more of value that he offered . . . and that many of the 'rumors' will be quelled. --- Therefore, for all the good he has done (and not the 'rumors'), R*I*P, Jose! MAGA!

ZuluFoxtrot1

First of all i want to express my condolences to the family of Mr. Arredondo. I also would hear those rumors and you know what it wasnt even from business competitors, or white people, I would hear it from Mexican people. Im Mexican as well but it makes me sick to know that my race can sometimes be the most envious, and the ones with the harshest tongues. U know who you are. U shouldnt run your mouth with garbage just because youre a failure!!

Fram Smith

Do you have any idea what kind of language translation program REMUDA is using? It would assist in knowing the country he / they are from. It is of interest to me as to what forgotten part of the world these folks reside. Why is it that the same folks who have a fetish for old men in torn jeans , also have the curiosity of a small soap dish.So be it. As for Jose being as clean as wind driven snow , I don't know anyone except those who are on the receiving end of his generosity that do not think that something is very odd about the life and death of Jose. Most likely , we will never know all the facts about Jose's death because a thorough investigation will never be conducted. He did not deserve this. If I implied otherwise , it was not my intention. There was a huge amount of mystery that surrounded Jose when he was alive ; and now in death. If there any gammer errors , let me apology in advance.

Fram Smith

A reminder to all ; some individuals who are posting comments do not live in the area and are payed to write nonsense and gibberish. REMUDA , by his own admission , is one such individual(s)? BE ADVISED! But for us folks who actually live in Bakersfield Californian , ( as opposed to say , Saint Petersburg , Russia ) the story of Jose is a strange tale. 1st and foremost , he traumatized me forever when he showed up on my TV screen with those torn pants during the last Superbowl halftime show- what in the world was he thinking? A suit and tie would have been more tasteful ; and would be the last image most of us would have of him. Next , there are mixed reports on how he died. It sure seems like an assassination , not a home invasion. The stats show that if a home invader finds someone at home , they leave. It is highly improbable that Jose died as a result of a home invasion gone wrong. The Mexican Government and Law Enforcement Agencies would have to present a preponderance of evidence to the public in order for reasonable people to accept that Jose's death was not a sanctioned hit ; this is something that would happen in the U.S. , but is much rarer in Mexico. Was Jose a criminal or just a businessman that made others suspensess ; who knows? Car dealerships are the perfect vehicle to launder dirty money , but there is no evidence to support the notion that Jose was cleaning up dirty money. Like Jose , El Chapo gave away tons of money to the poor and disadvantaged. But lots of legitimate businessmen give away millions. What makes it particularly difficult to get to the truth is our own biases ; if had Jose had been a old white guy named Robert , with an identical family story from say Poland , would you have believed the drug money laundering stories? Maybe Jose was on the up and up. However , many of us who have heard the rumors for- ever , may have trouble buying the home invasion story on Jose's death.

Veritas

Ok, I have read your posts for a while now and I have refrained from commenting on any of them. I am now doing so on this one because I am curious as to what you will respond with. First, I agree with you that people should just ignore REMUDA. Almost all do, except you. It is a troll, and honestly no one else cares, so stop recognizing it. Secondly, you were “traumatized forever” by someone wearing torn pants on TV? Really?? Next you wrote that Arredondo’s murder seemed like an assassination. Do you even know the definition of the word assassinate? He was not a political or religious figure so he definitely wasn’t assassinated. Then you wrote it is highly improbable he died as the result of a home invasion because there was not a “preponderance of evidence to the public”... I have never heard that before so what exactly does that term “preponderance of evidence to the public” mean as it relates to this criminal investigation? And lastly, you play both sides of the fence regarding whether Arredondo had illegal dealings or not, but your last sentence shows which side of the fence you are truly on. Oh ya, what the heck is suspensess ?

TJ

Jose’ was a very thoughtful and generous man. He had contributed so much to our community with a gracious and humble heart. I can’t imagine the grief and devastation his family is feeling right now, but I know one thing for sure, Jose loved the Lord with every fiber of his being, and he is resting peacefully with his Lord and Savior at this moment. I use to look forward to listening to him speak from the heart whenever Pastor put him on the spot and called him up after one of our fundraisers. He didn’t just give at church. He shared with everybody. If there was a cause, he was giving...Please have the courtesy and respect for his family, and keep your words kind.

Norma

First of all I'd like togive my condolences to the family of Jose , I did not know him personally but would see him on TV about golf , charities and helping his neighbor what I find extremely upsetting is this kind ,generous ,benefactor was very kind to many people and this man died a violent gruesome death and to read these comments about how and why speculation about how he amassed his fortune is really no one's business but his God's and the I R S I find it repulsive that instead of thinking about opening a memorial fund in his name as a benefactor people would gossip and malighn his character I did not know him but I didn't need to I knew him through the care he extended to our brothers and sisters in need so instead of finding fault with this man's life why don't you use his example and see how you could be of use instead of crittisize discredit I guarantee you he nay enter heavens gates before any that just gossip but do nothing to help a brother in need RIPJose

REMUDA

Well now, it seems that with these continuing stories about Mr. Arredondo's (RIP) bludgeoning & stabbings (murder? . . . assassination?) that we see reported here . . . it seems that he also encouraged, sponsored and supported illegal aliens (like himself?) . . . ? --- Even though he denied being a "drug dealer" . . . it appears the question of actual (or peripheral) "involvement" remains unanswered. ---- His "good works" and "faith" (and law enforcement suspicions) notwithstanding . . . his "roots" and "heritage" (Cabo?) seem to remain as principal features of his financial dealings and successes . . . in following his parents advice to "Always do what's right . . . " and, as yet, remained an "undocumented immigrant" (illegal alien?). ----- As admitted "illegal aliens", do his parents words of wisdom ring true. . . or show evidence of a set of (moral/legal) standards differing from those here in our USA . . . or even Mexico? (where will he be buried?) ---- Yes, Mr. Gaspar . . . "hard to fathom" . . . and quite bewildering in this ongoing and unsettling drama . . . with its varied opinions about his contributions and . . . and. . . the other(?). ------ Another, final thought. I wonder . . . how does Msgr. Craig Harrison feel about this (same?) sort of news coverage and exposure of a man's career and life under such 'dire' . . . and 'deferential' circumstances? ---- Hmmmmm....?

Norma

I bet your a very very unhappy person I bet you are a moderate to severe depressive who likes to compare themselves with the entire human race you really shouldn't judge your neighbor but instead look at your life and meditate on how you can aspire to be a better person then cast blame and come off superior by comparison to illegal versus legal your an embarrasse me enter to the human race

Rie60

Look I know you probably spent hours thinking that comment up proudly wrote it down in your diary cried a little bit over it , Practiced and practiced, and then came here full of righteous indignation to let everyone know what the tea was. I'm sure that when you did your hmmmmmm? ( Makes me wonder how many times you removed and added m's, and ?s, Maybe even an interrobang or two). You wanted it to have a certain Atticus Finch AhHa! Moment.. You failed... You don't know any more Than anyone else does. But thanks for playing.

Norma

Listen don't flatter your self I happen to know a self righteous biggot when I see one and your well you need prayer and I will do a hard right abpray for you you must of got hurt a long the way and as troubling as it may psychologically be to understand there are good people out there that do good deeds for others and do it because it's the right thing to do like Jose arredondo then there's people like you that are left me maggotts that like to well stain smear and infest people's characters with unfounded truths and smear lies and we'll produce a sense of doubt to cloud the goodness of others now tell your self if you had his experience would you like your beloved to be slandered by a smear campaign that is negative be positive and if you can't send a rainbow to someone after a heavy rainfall of sorrow then go close your self in the closet with negativity and absorb your hate and stop spreading unfounded rumors please you can start tomorrow it's a new day you have a chance to shine now I hope you do the right thing there's always tomorrow 👍 be a thumbs up then a thumbs down good luck gave you free therapy smile

Norma

Your Wicked and you use your speech ofwritten form to in filter slander and gossip and brew contentment you are a very essel of pure hatred in the form of writing I just can't believe you are among the living and the ones that are doing good and feeding there neighbors and doing God's will what you do to the least you have done to me . Then there's vermin and we'll filth that always likes to stain and that's you you make me sick and I don't need to know you even your energy and your vibe is well really frighteningly disturbing your the kind I wish could disappear and I believe in God and I have empathy and I consider my self a ethical person but you are pure filth in hatred in slanderous written word go and disappear you won't be missed and I say it with empathy go away you are an abomination of a person!

ConcernedCatholic

Drug cartel and pedophiles are two different things. Apples and oranges.

Boogerface Nutter

Kind of a pathetic excuse for a human, aren't you? Blaming success on being an illegal immigrant when brought here by his parents? Denying that his parents had such good advice? From my living in Bako, and having neighbors who were illegal, I came to know wonderful, family-oriented people who seemed to appreciate my using those years of high school Spanish with them and people who would go without food to pay their bills. These were people who worked harder than most of the whiny white people who seem more jealous of the work ethic of those who come here illegally and how it eclipses not only their work ethic but their drive to succeed. That Arredondo had many businesses, almost all of which did very well, seems lost. Do the white people who own businesses get the same criticism? My suggestion? Shut the heck up. It's better to be silent and be thought an idiot than to speak (or write) and remove all doubt.

Cookcook

Guess if you dont want to be next youll curb how your ignorance is being betrayed through your suspicions! ...oops freedom of speech , no

WorkingHardToPay4YourObamaphone

Jose was a good friend of Ed Jagels. Used to see them together at restaurants, and golf courses. So, such much for that "outsider" theory. Also, has anyone noticed that he was executed very close to El Chapo's sentencing?

ddhinds

Maybe we will find out if all the drug speculation was true or not. Who knows. I must say, however, that this person did a lot of good for the community. I have heard from several people who worked for or had business dealings with him that he could be arrogant and rude while others say the opposite and that he was a true gentleman. In any event, it is a loss for his family and business associates and one must admire what he accomplished. If it was through drugs or just plain simple hard work, he did help folks.

Nevermind

Why is it hard to fathom? Whether or not Jose was a drug dealer and ticked someone off or not. He's rich, he's in Cabo, and he's a great target for criminals. Because he owned a place there makes it easier to plan a home invasion no matter what the reason. Because of the cartel infighting, the murder rate in the area went from 70 to 560 in three short years. (2014 -2017) Because of tourism, they spent a lot of money on surveillance because, what tourist wants to see a dead body hanging off an overpass? It helped, a lot, but Cabo is still deemed one of the top 6 most dangerous cities in the world. The vast majority of those murders are drug, turf and revenge motivated. Do I know if Jose was a drug dealer...nope....but considering all the circumstantial evidence....his brutal murder....not just a hit but seemingly personal.....the fact that someone was killed in his house, and the fact that his success came quickly is very suspicious. He wouldnt be convicted by me with that info, but if I were betting 100 bucks, I'd go with the circumstantial evidence. It's like being surprised that you were bitten by a rattler when you tried to pick it up.

Jerry Todd

When my wife was Principal of St. John's School in Wasco, Jose donated cars and goodies to her raffles and "Jamaica" celebrations. His family working at the dealership were always pleasant and delightful. I loved the term about the alleged drug ties. "Innocent until proven guilty." We've lost a great, inspiring businessman to the murderers lurking at our borders. So far we've also lost a great Catholic Pastor to unproven accusations of malfeasance by accusers who were coached by experienced devious sources who know how to "kill" off church leaders. God bless both of these great men.

ConcernedCatholic

The Diocese removed him from credible allegations. Not a conspiracy, just real life.

PSNolen

Wow. I am stunned by such a piece. I grew up in Bakersfield and am very familiar with it's 'good ol boy' reputation that has been well-earned. My dad was part of the smear campaign upon this gentleman. Why? Because he was an outsider. That's it. He wasn't part of the Bakersfield Bluebloods that connect the dots in this town. Worse, he was a successful outsider. It this town full of the bitter and bigoted, the best way to compete is slander and lies, not good business practices. Cronyism rules Bakersfield and most of Kern County. Take a good look at our water districts, or school boards. Bakersfield Bluebloods. Instead of honoring a gentleman who tried very hard to be part of this community, contributed in so many ways, and was never connected to any crime or questionable activity ever, you wrote this piece of insincere garbage. You give credence to those vicious rumors and heinous lies. By mentioning it time and time again, you gave those slanderous comments validation. There is no craft in this piece, just the continuation of a smear campaign.

Veritas

Jose Gaspar a racist? Do you have any facts to support your claim or are you just ignorant and the racist one here? As for Arredondo, If he did illegal things in his past it has never been proven. Innocent until proven guilty. Let it go and let the man rest in peace. If for no other reason then do it for his family, they just lost one of their loved ones. Show some compassion or does “Papi” need to go over that Step with you?

Mrknowitall

The haterz are just jealous and obviously racists. Perhaps it is the disease of suffering from a neck of scarlet. Let’s pray for Jack and others of his ilk. It’s a sickness they’re afflicted with... much like rabies. Wipe that slanderous foam from your mouths and try being decent. Just try it. See. It’s not that difficult. There are now 12step programs for Haterz. I’ll be your teacher. You have permission to call me “Papi”, but only whilst engaging the program. See, son... I’ll guide you to the light. Stay away from Fox News, that is the 1st Step. Breathe deeply, and count to ten (if you can count that high—feel free to use your fingers or toes) Then day, All men are created equal and that God created men in HIS own image. Good. You are on your way to good works—if you have not choked on those words. Papi is proud of you son! So some await “cause” of death. Could you be any creepier? Death is death. Let the man RIP. How would y’all appreciate your names being tarnished and couldn’t defend yourselves? Family would no doubt be wounded, as if they are not hurting enough from their tragedy. Jose was a multimillionaire rags-to-riches success story. He achieved and lived The American Dream. It was difficult, but he persevered. Just because you are broke, insecure, and a failure at anything you touch should have no bearing on the good fortune of others that actually earned their way via honesty and good character. I believe the Haterz have posted really are actually acting out—begging me to forgive them for displaying alarming levels of ignorance on this forum. I officially absolve you my friends. Go in peace. Signed: Your ever-lovin’n Papi. Oh, and you are welcome.

Jack

Next the Californian will have a bigger racist than Jose say how great of a person and humanitarian the man was. When are we going to get the real details of his execution from this one sided publication.

Nevermind

Soooo....you hate the paper but you're here because you're masochistic and like being indignant?

Boris25

Hard hitting interview (sic) , how would most individuals answer the question, "are you a drug dealer"? Just remember Bill Clinton, "I didn't have sex with that woman" and he wasn't talking about Hillary.

Booksmart

Have some dreams. Plan. Work hard. Work harder. Pray. Do good. Work even harder. There are success principles that work. Go make something happen rather than throwing stones at a decent man's legacy. Everyone has a different path. There are universal principles that work. Try reading a classic, "The Magic of Thinking Big."

She Dee

True. But now it's too late to ask him if he was a liar or just clueless as to what was happening when he wasn't there. Whatever the reason, he paid the ultimate price & that's sad for his family to have to deal with. It was a senseless death. I wish him peace in the afterlife. Condolences to his friends & family.

GetReal2

The premature death of any human being is hard to fathom.

Booksmart

Heartbreaking news. He was full of light and life. Good man.

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