The grandiose, arched entrance into the Cabo Real Golf Club resort community has no gates.

The guard in the security shack is marginally attentive, so much so that drivers simply wave as they enter. If that.

Jose Arredondo didn't often lock the doors of his 2,000-square foot condo, situated on the second hole, but even when he did, the patio entry leading out back to the golf course was usually unsecured.

Sufficiently motivated and practiced killers presumably cast aside trivialities such as gates, guards and locks with ruthless efficiency, but the ones who murdered Arredondo on the southern coast of Baja California Sur sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning probably didn't even face those obstacles. Arredondo might even have opened the door for them.

Arredondo, whose Family Motors TV commercials made him a familiar face to hundreds of thousands of Kern County residents over 20 years, was killed sometime after 5:20 p.m. Monday.

No arrests have been made, no suspects identified, no possible motives released.

Baja California Sur authorities say Arredondo was beaten to death. Other disturbing characterizations of the homicide persist in rumor but investigators have not released any other details. Two media outlets, including The Californian, have reported that he was also stabbed.

Cabo Real, a 2,800-acre resort and residential community with 3 miles of beachfront, is roughly halfway between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo and right across the coastal highway from an expansive Hilton Hotel.

Tim Jalving, a retired automotive salesman and longtime friend, stayed at Arredondo's three-bedroom, four-bath condo "a handful of times," he said Thursday by phone from his home in Florida, and he had discussed with Arredondo the possibility of visiting this week.

"What's really odd is I could have been there," said Jalving, who last visited the condo about six months ago. "If I were there, the chain of events could have happened entirely different."

Arredondo, 60, had owned the Cabo Real condo for probably 15 to 20 years, according to Jalving, and he would visit the resort for perhaps 10 days at a time every three months or so.

"He considered himself a Mexican, and he liked Cabo," he said. "We'd go to brunch at the Hilton. He'd say, 'Things down here just taste better. You can't get coffee like this in the States.' Everything was better in Mexico."

Jalving didn't hold the same feelings.

"You can't trust anything in Mexico," Jalving said. "As many times as I've been in Mexico I've never felt safe. He'd pooh-pooh that. But the fact is, there's people down there who would kill you for a couple hundred bucks. And he carried around a lot of cash."

Indeed, Los Cabos, the twin resort cities at the southernmost tip of the long Baja peninsula, has been called the most violent place on earth. It had 365 homicides in 2017, an astounding rate of 111 murders per 100,000 population — proportionally, the highest per capita murder rate on the planet. And, across Mexico, things continue to worsen: The national murder rate jumped by 15 percent in 2018 – although the central state of Guanajuato surpassed Baja Sur — and, in the first three months of 2019, by an additional 9.6 percent.

Authorities say the violence, typically directed at Mexican nationals, not tourists, is most likely the result of rival factions seeking to fill the void left by the drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was captured in 2016 and sentenced to life in prison by a U.S. judge just this past week.

During his 25-year reign, prosecutors at his 11-week trial said, El Chapo's “army of sicarios” was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in the cartel's way.

Jalving had heard the rumors about Arredondo, too: That he was somehow involved in drugs, in money laundering — something. In all their time together, however, he never saw any evidence of it.

"I knew him," Jalving said. "When you're a golf buddy — you're out on the course together for hours at a time —  you get to know somebody. He would have had to be pretty good (to hide such activity).

"There are a lot of things that could have happened to him (Monday night). I can't even conjecture."

Neither can Krista Holleman of Bakersfield, for whom Arredono had been a mentor, sharing with her motivational and leadership books and lectures. She texted him late Monday afternoon with a message she thought might brighten his day.

"Jose I thought you'd appreciate this," she wrote. "I was given an assignment in my college English class to talk about someone we admire (and) I chose you ..." And she texted him a shot of a page from the essay, written in February, that she had just come across.

His response startled her. 

"It was pretty jumbled," Holleman said. "He was either intoxicated or distracted. My mom said she wondered if it might have been someone else texting (on his phone). It definitely caught me off guard."

One thing particularly surprised her.

"He used profanity, and he had never used profanity in front of me before, talking or texting," she said.

"I'm still in shock. The last text I got from him was 5:20 p.m. Monday."

It might have been Arredondo's last communication with the world outside Cabo Real. The next morning Holleman learned he'd been killed.

Addressing the rumors that Arredondo may have been involved in drugs, she said: "I never saw anything of that nature."

That speculation had dogged Arredondo for decades, though.

"The Hispanic community loved him," said Jalving, who said he witnessed many instances of incredible largesse on Arredondo's part, both in the U.S. and Baja. He'd observed countless acts of generosity: paying medical bills, covering tuition, financing dreams.

"But the people in the car business, that was a different story. I was at a convention of dealers in Las Vegas 20 years ago, within earshot of some local guys who didn't know me, and one was saying, 'This new Mexican guy in town that's dealing drugs ...'  He was spewing all kinds of things he had no idea about. Jose was rocking the good old boy network."

Jalving worked for Arredondo for 24 years, putting in stints mostly as finance director at several of his dealerships including, just before he retired two years ago at age 67, Arredondo's Porsche dealership, where Jalving served as general manager.

That long association put Jalving in a position to learn two important things about Arredondo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who entered the country illegally as a 13-year-old in 1971: He had nerves of steel and boundless confidence in himself.

"He is the best money player I've ever seen," said Jalving, who taught Arredondo to golf a year after first going to work for him. Eventually, Jalving said, the student surpassed the teacher.

"He had no nerves, absolutely steely resolve. If there was money on the putt, he would drain it. He played some big money games. ... And he didn't care if the other player was way better. When the money was there, I've seen him beat better players."

That cool audacity reaped rewards on the automotive lot.

"He considered himself the best closer alive," Jalving said. "In sales meetings he'd say, 'Pay attention, folks, you can't learn this in college.'"

Arredondo was certainly right about that.

"When he was just getting started he was the perennial salesman of the month," Jalving said. "He was phenomenal in sales. He's the best I've ever seen."

Did that brash, almost reckless assuredness eventually get Arredondo into a jam he couldn't escape? 

"What really happened?" Jalving said. "That's what everyone wants to know."

We may never find out. Only 1 in 100 reported homicides in Mexico goes to sentencing.

Efforts to speak with Arredondo's senior employees have not been successful, and no information about a possible memorial has been announced.

Contact The Californian’s Robert Price at 661-395-7399, rprice@bakersfield.com or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. His column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; the views expressed are his own.

(30) comments

mrdwm1

Why is it so difficult to understand that Jose was popular because he treated everyone he met with kindness and respect, but was also a hard driving business person who was happy with life and his place in it?

Cookcook

He played"big money games" . This is an aweful story and why would he go without his wife !

RetiredCountyWorker

Eating popcorn reading the comments

BakoMark

He started on a dirt lot on Rosedale and Allen. Ask anyone that’s lived in Rosedale for 30 years plus.

al

It's just so sad to think that the culprits of this terrible crime will go unpunished.

GaryJohns

Is there anyone left down at the Californian that hasn't written an article on this yet...? The night cleaning crew or gardeners, maybe....

Rie60

What's your beef dude. If you don't want to see it don't read It. Just roll on past.

byebyeCA

The US is getting bad enough with crime, who in their right mind would visit Mexico?

Jim

I do feel that this is the top local story. Without speculating on rumors past and present, I think the family and the community is owed an honest assessment of the final hours of Mr. Arredondo. I hope that Mexican government and the US State Department get to the truth. As they say, the truth will set you free.

REMUDA

This is merely the tip of an "ICE-berg" floating on a sea of $$ and intrigue.

REMUDA

"Everybody wants ta get inta da act . . . !" (Jimmy Durante 1949) ----->>> First . . . COX--Jul 16, ----->>> "Arredondo came to the United States from a rural community in the Mexican state of Michoacan at the age of 11, not knowing how to speak English." (Cox) ----->>>> Then . . . Price--Jul 17 ------>>> "He was the fourth child of 11. When he was 12, one night in the winter of 1971, Arredondo crossed the border illegally with his sister Laura." ----->>>> Then . . . Gaspar--Jul 19 ---->>>> "Emigrating from Mexico when he was 13 as an undocumented immigrant . . . " ----->>>> " . . . Arredondo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who entered the country illegally as a 13-year-old in 1971:" (really . . . NATURALIZED? AMNESTY?. . . How? . . . Where? . . . ) --->>>"He considered himself "a Mexican, and he liked Cabo," he said. "We'd go to brunch at the Hilton. He'd say, 'Things down here just taste better. You can't get coffee like this in the States.' Everything was better in Mexico." ------>>>> And so . . . if Jose is/was considered . . . "a Mexican" . . . Bobbie, there is STILL no answer as to HOW, or IF, Jose was able to border-cross back and forth to Mexico with (or without) a 'PASSAPORTE' . . . ! And where to inter . . . AND . . . finally . . . "REST IN PEACE" . . .?

Mrknowitall

Just when you think ignorance has reached its apex, we get someone playing the ICE card. Instead of questions on his Citizenship stays and stamps on his passport... isn’t it enough to know he paid more in taxes to the US government in one year than any of you Haterz will contribute in your lifetimes. Let that taste roll around in your mouths for awhile. So it’s not like he was swimming across the river to Mexico on weekends. Hold onto your hats bigoted ones. Wait for it... Jose flew to Cabo and many other points frequently, and it wasn’t coach, biz class or 1st class. Nope not a private plane. Ready? It was on his private jet piloted by his personal pilot. A Jet uses jet fuel Peons, and so he spent more on jet fuel annually than you Haterz earn annually. How’s THEM taters sliding down your throats now? Take a drink of soapy water. There. Now maybe you can articulate some common decency on the subject of eternal loss. Jose won’t ever walk this earth again. Isn’t that enough for you scandal mongers/mongrels? Of course not. Dragging in Trump menu. Boy, he sure knows how to whip up his base of Klansmen. You don’t even realize you are not rich enough for Trump policy to benefit you. He would actually vomit if he had to spend even twenty minutes at your dinner table. Yeah... lots in common with y’all. Lol. The kicker is the poverty-stricken coal miners and ghost town steel mill counties n states that rally behind him. Poor broke whites actually think he’s “fighting their fight”. Kills me. Just taking advantage of the unsophisticated that revel in race hatred. Makes em sleep better on empty stomachs as their kids never make it to college n wear hand-me downs. Well done Jethro. The Bodines n Jed Clampett hillbilly kin would be so proud of you. Keep up the ignorance. It’s gotta last you one half a generation. Then the majority minorities will no doubt give you a dose of Trumps own medicine. Ah, but he won’t be here so yer on yer own. Lol. Just remember, you Haterz will have taught them valuable lessons to visit upon you and your line. Life n karma are sweet. RIP Jose

Lilyrose

Mr. Know-it-all: His personal plane is typical. If I were you I would keep that part of his life quiet. And for those who think a recount of what went down day of, well, that won't happen. He is one of many how played his hand with the wrong table. Apologies to his family.

Rie60

Mr. Know-it-all doesn't know one thing about his life didn't know him. He just wants to sound like a big shot

Veritas

It’s like the two neighborhood crazy guys who walk around all day long finally ran into each other and are now “rambling” each other to death.

Mrknowitall

Yeah. You would live in a neighborhood with two crazy guys. I can afford to live in a neighborhood with only one—me. Lol. Best revenge from savages such as yourself is to live well. I so am. How’s that for roasting a ghetto-dweller. Ha! Funny.. you are even judging in your own neighborhood of squalor. Well done

Veritas

Thanks for proving me right. Be sure to ramble back at me Jethro!

Mrknowitall

I already used the Jethro quip earlier. Sheez. I guess No originality in your disenfranchised hood. Lol BTW. I love to ramble. And gaslight EZ targets such as yourself. Smile. Gotcha!

Athanasios

Either this was an opinion or Remuda is putting out the codes to alert French Resistence forces of the upcoming D-Day landings.....

Rie60

I'm not sure if you're spastic or you just like making all kinds of symbols on your keyboard. What do you mean naturalize with a? There are naturalization ceremonies up in tehachapi all the time. You didn't know? We forget to send you the memo? Let me check on that just hold please.... oh OK sir I figured it out. You didn't get the memo because it's "NONE OF YOUR FECKIN BUSINESS" When we want your opinion on to should or shouldn't be Naturalized... we'll choke it out of you.

Mrknowitall

So the Big Enchilada for The Californian gives his journalistic take on Jose. A large portion is dedicated to salacious speculation — based on UNsubstantiated rumors started by the jealous Haddad Brothers and the green with envy Chevy, Ford, and Toyota ownership. Even though the Haddad’s dad Chuck was straight out Lebanon, himself basically a penniless immigrant chasing The American Dream. Oh... exactly what how Jose began his journey. But does anyone sully their family name or legitimacy? Oh no. But The Mexican is perceived as unable to secure automobile dealer success without resorting to drug or money laundering? Outrageous and extremely racist and unworthy of a legitimate journalist to focus on slanderous UNproven whispers. Shame on you. Try wearing a turtle-neck sweater for your Californian photo ops. The pronounced scarlet of your neck is showing. Resent that characterization? Unfounded you say? Racist? Good—now you know how the Arredondo family feels about the drug storyline you in the media insist on focusing the narrative to be regarding this philanthropically inclined gentleman. You have a job to do. A duty to cover the news. Fine. But by driving the racist narrative by making the bulk of your article “alluding” to drug shenanigans is abhorrent and shows a lack of journalistic integrity on your part. Anything for a few more copies sold or click baits taken. Shame on you. You’ve never been an elite writer anyway, perhaps you fear for your job due to new ownership. Well, remember how karma works. It is often ironic and at times acts as a boomerang. The man was never suffered a single drug charge in his life. Law enforcement was all over him, but he passed muster for thirty years. How is that possible? He was not involved in criminal activity. That’s how. Now, the other folks that own dealerships... dozens of rumors regarding drug usage and nefarious dealings... yet nary a sentence from your “news” publication —ever—. Selective persecution? Sounds like it. smells like it. Looks like it. Must be. So before you throw stones... stones borne of trying to assist rival “white” dealerships —the Haddad Boy’s identify as white—as they collectively spent more than Jose did with your paper in advertising and were advertising long before Jose came along. How do you like them apples? Name names. Report on their “rumors” that are juicy and ripe for those who place faith in whispers. It wouldnt be fair now would it? Heck no. And that’s the point. Be fair and even-handed in your journalistic endeavors. If not—you’ll always be just another hack. RIP Jose.

Churchillis1

Good grief, Knowitall. Calm down. For an accomplished journalist to NOT comment on the decades long rumors would be journalistic malfeasance. Mr. Price discusses the rumors but also puts them in their appropriate context: namely that these rumors are merely rumors. He then has sources address these rumors and basically put them to rest. For you to jump to the childish assumption that this is "racist" tells us more about you than it does Robert Price.

Mrknowitall

Churchi Baby. Proper context? Appropriate? OK. So Eight (8) paragraphs “dealing with” t”the rumors”?!! Lol. Yeah, to those sick puppies that are of a like mind and see that as in context and appropriate— guess it is exactly that in your world view. Sheeesh. Shame on you. Did ya even take the time to read your musings before posting. Didn’t think so. That’s because your mind sets are so deeply ingrained it never crossed your mind that you are basically a racist as well. You don’t march or wear a Naxi helmet st night in your home but you are definitely a bubble or two off from reality. Lemme try this on ya: Remember how your relatives from the Great Dust Bowl were called Okies n Arkies and were frowned upon by proper folks already settled in California? Y’all were subjected to the exact same journalistic razzmatazz n ignorant garbage articles such as Senor Price’s. Bet your ancestors didn’t appreciate that. Try those drawers on for size the next time you see racism and feel compelled to cheer for and defend it. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Shame, Shame, Shame”.

Churchillis1

Nice tin foil hat. Seek help, Knownothing.

Veritas

Mr(Obviously)Dontknowitall, I don’t even know where to start. You act like you are not racist, but your comments brand you a racist. If you can’t see that then you are obviously a Troll, or simply oblivious. Your lack of simple grammatical structure and syntax also indicates you are a Troll. Nothing in what Churchillis1 wrote indicates their race. You assumed, based on their disagreement with your opinion/rant that they are descended from, “Okies n Arkies”. That is a racist attack and you cannot write your way out of that one, but I am sure you will try. The rest of what you wrote are the ramblings of either a Troll outside the USA, or someone that is ignorant and just likes to stir up things for amusement. Attack those who are obviously racist, otherwise don’t assume just because they don’t agree with you that they are racist. Have a nice day.

Vico17

Use IP lookup. I for one had no idea Churchillis1 was Price. I thought he was Ethan Hunt. But in all seriousness, this is a scene from the 1951 science fiction movie The Marching Morons, except the Antagonist is a Real Estate salesman, not a Car salesman. When each of you call each other racist, no you are, no Pelosi is, no Trump is, I know what you are but what am I...I give up. I only expect the facts from the news. Let me, "the reader" judge people by the "real" facts, not opinions from a circular firing squad. My IP is local.

7nickfish

I'm glad someone has come to his defense. Putting in the article all the gross speculation takes away from the story itself and places the Californian on par with the other "fake" news agencies we now have in America.

Fram Smith

Thanks Robert. Excellent research and writing, as with most everything you write these days. Maybe Jose was a straight shooter and all the trash talk was just people who were resentful of his success. If he was dirty , he was amazing at keeping it from everyone. There are missing pieces to this puzzle , that are needed to know the facts.

REMUDA

(BTW . . . By Gosh, Howdy, 'Fram S.' . . . ! See you're here again . . . slid out of your "hidden bunker" . . . eh . . . !?)

Jose

Well written

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