Jose Arredondo-11224

Family Motors owner Jose Arredondo.

A day after the news broke that Jose Arredondo, the rags-to-riches Kern County auto dealer, had been killed in an apparent homicide in Baja California Sur, Mexico, Bakersfield was still trying to sort the facts from the speculation.

We know this: Authorities in Baja California Sur, the Mexican state that includes La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, told The Associated Press that Arredondo — age 58 in some reports but 60 in county voter records — had died from blunt-force trauma. Arredondo had been beaten to death, local investigators told AP.

Reports that Arredondo had also suffered stab wounds in the home invasion attack, as reported by The Californian and others, could not be confirmed by authorities Wednesday.

A U.S. State Department official who withheld his name would say little more, other than confirming Arredondo's death in Cabo San Lucas, a popular fishing and tourism village on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula.

"We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death," the official told The Californian. "We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance."

The date and time of the attack that killed Arredondo have not been specified, although some media reported it as Tuesday, and it's not clear whether there were other victims or witnesses.

No suspects have been named and no possible motives released.

A Bakersfield police spokeswoman said the agency had not been contacted by officials in Mexico regarding the case.

Baja Sur’s murder rate ranked third in Mexico in 2017, behind only the coastal states of Colima and Guerrero. Despite that, Los Cabos set new tourism records that year with 2 million visitors, up about 20 percent from 2016.

Gossip about alleged drug connections had followed Arredondo for years, but he was never charged. Arredondo addressed the rumors in a 2006 interview with The Californian.

"I don't understand why people have so much focus on me instead of worrying about their stuff," he said at that time. "People think, 'Hey, wait a minute. This cannot be real. He must be dealing or doing things. How can he be so generous?'"

Billy Faeth, a former professional golfer who worked for Arredondo, told The Californian in that 2006 article that when he took the job, friends and family asked if he'd be laundering money for Arredondo.

"Everything I've heard is completely unfounded and, to be honest, it gets me very upset — not because I work for him, but because he's a friend," Faeth said.

Arredondo's pastor, the Rev. James Ranger, told The Californian on Tuesday he'd had long conversations with Arredondo about the gossip and the businessman strongly believed the rumors were started by people jealous of his professional success.

Arredondo bought and sold a number of local dealerships over the years. In 1999 alone he said he earned $1.35 million. His Family Motors brand owned lots in Bakersfield and Delano.

Arredondo was born in the village of Cualcoman, in the Mexican state of Michoacan, according to the Family Motors website. 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. Their mother was already working as a housekeeper in Valencia; their father had died, according to heavy.com.

He eventually found work washing cars in Los Angeles, was promoted to salesman and was on his way to a successful career in the auto sales business.

Arredondo was the reported owner of Fresno Buick-GMC, Hanford Hyundai and the Family Motors Group in Bakersfield, Santa Maria and Lompoc, The Fresno Bee reported. He also owned KTIP Radio in Porterville and Tulare-based KGEN-AM/FM Radio.

Arredondo's survivors include his wife, Laura, as well daughter Mariana and son Samuel, whose mother is Kim Kyung-ju. A complete list of survivors was not available Wednesday.

Samuel is a star of so-called K-Pop, or South Korean pop music, having performed with the duo 1Punch and in season two of the reality TV series "Produce 101" in 2017. That same year, according to the website heavy.com, he had a solo hit record, "Sixteen," that had some comparing him to Justin Bieber.

Samuel Arredondo Kim, aka Punch, as he is known professionally, got his start making commercials for his father's Family Motors. His social media accounts were disabled Wednesday and he has not commented, according to heavy.com. Kim, 17, was receiving messages of condolence from fans via Twitter, Yahoo Entertainment reported Wednesday.

Calls to Family Motors were not immediately returned.

Robert Price can be reached at 661-395-7399. Follow him on Twitter: @stubblebuzz.

(12) comments

PSNolen

I was away at college when Jose began business in Bakersfield. My dad talked about the gossip surrounding Jose. I asked my dad what proof he had. None. Knowing how insensitive and insecure businessmen in Bakersfield can be (my family was very active members of the K.C. Board of Trade in the 1980's), I assumed every nasty, snarky unfounded remark was pure jealousy. In 2009, I met Jose at a fundraiser. He was such a gentleman and was both witty and smart. I knew immediately why he was so successful. I was stunned to read of his passing. A truly great loss.

Mrknowitall

The Haterz cannot help themselves. The Brown Man made more money than most—if not all— of the Haterz posting dirty money lies. It makes them feel better. Poor misguided and insecure misfits. Very sick unhealthy perspectives. The man died. Isn’t that sufficient suffering to slake your thirst for “revenge” on the man for being successful? The Donald would be sooo proud of you. But The Man Upstairs? Not so proud. Jose is dead. He cannot defend himself. Oh. But that makes it all the easier for the cowardly. Regardless—you must face the fact that he was a multimillionaire, and you are NOT. Lol. Not even close. So you jealous, broke, failures... keep hating. Myself... I’ll say a prayer for you. RIP Mr. Arredondo. Your legacy can’t be stained by small-minded racists.

Brazengunrunner91

I have always held Mr. Arredondo in very high regard but even I have to wonder how this man come here with NOTHING and within a few short years was buying multi-million dollar auto dealerships all over California. Either he is the most successful businessman ever or there was something else going on...

PedoHater

On to the next story...yawn...find the facts on what happened or move one

Brazengunrunner91

A really good man. He will be missed greatly

JesusChristLoverofmysoul_91

He was actually aged 60, when he died. How I know that is because: my grandma used to call him every year to wish him to wish him a happy birthday. I've read that in some articles, he died of both: blunt force trauma, and stab wounds. Not sure which one is true; but, i hope and pray that the truth will come to light, and that justice will be served, soon enough!

REMUDA

Sad for those who cared about him. Hopefully answers about the pre-conditions of his death will come forth. Also new info about old rumors regarding legal status and other activities will surface to bring closure to and for those folks involved in his life . . . as well as those of us watching as this drama unfolds. Curious still is the missing word--"murder". He was certainly a man of many moods and modes.

thatryguy

Ranger is the pastor at a Bakersfield Mega-church. His relationship with Arredando may have been legitimate, but it was founded on money.

Brazengunrunner91

thatryguy...You are exactly right and that is why churches MUST PAY TAXES! Even if its 1%! A drug dealer who is religious (Not saying that was the case here) can give millions to churches and the churches NEVER have to report what they were given to anyone. This has to stop! Churches NEED TO PAY TAXES!!!

HeresJohnny

Even if the rumors were true would Ranger say otherwise? Come on, he knows where his bread is buttered. The pastor can't spare 30 seconds of his time for any of his other members but start dropping big bucks in the offering plate and see what kind access that grants you (you know I'm right). Either the pastor is in on it or he's too dumb to realize that maybe some of those swirling rumors might have a shred of truth to them and maybe some of that money is a little bit dirty. Have a nice day.

BakoMark

If it’s green it’s good.

jimnjoy

People who own car dealerships make a lot of money...enough money to give generously to charities. I don't know this pastor, or the deceased...do you? I hope the pastor's interaction with his congregation doesn't depend on their level of giving, but I don't think you can insinuate that "EITHER the pastor is in on it, OR he's too dumb to realize...", with any credibility at this time, whether you know these people or not. People get murdered in Mexico everyday. They just don't make the local news. Have a nice day.

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