3 more suspects identified in killing of Coachella Valley couple who went missing in 2017

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Riverside County authorities on Wednesday identified three more suspects in the killing of a Coachella Valley couple who went missing in 2017.

There are now six suspects in custody more than three years after Jonathan Reynoso, 28, and Audrey Moran, 26, suddenly went missing. Deputies in Palm Desert received a report about Reynoso’s disappearance on May 10, 2017, the same day Moran was reported missing to Indio police.

Two days later, a vehicle that Moran drove was found in the city of Beaumont, alongside the westbound 10 Freeway just west of Oak Valley Parkway, sheriff’s officials said.

Jonathan Reynoso and Audrey Moran are seen in an image provided by the Indio Police Department.
Jonathan Reynoso and Audrey Moran are seen in an image provided by the Indio Police Department.

But the case saw little progress since then until last month, when authorities announced the discovery of human remains believed to be that of the victims. They also said criminal charges were filed against three suspects.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said the human remains believed to be Moran and Reynoso were found somewhere in the Coachella Valley. He would not specify where and said authorities were still awaiting DNA results.

“However, the investigation that led us to the remains indicate that we did find them,” Bianco said.

On June 30, Riverside County authorities identified three suspects each facing criminal charges in the couple’s disappearance — Manuel Rios, 28 of Coachella; Abraham Fregoso, 32 of Indio; and Jesus Ruiz Jr., 41, of Stockton. They were all arrested on June 27.

Authorities named three more suspects Wednesday, announcing the arrests of Aaron Fernando Bernal, 28, of Indio and Eric Rios, 31, of Coachella.  The Sheriff’s Department said investigators are working to file a murder charge against Bernal and a count of accessory to a murder against Rios.

They were both arrested in the Coachella Valley and booked into local jails, authorities said.

Adilene Ines Castaneda, 27, of Coachella will also face a murder charge in connection with Reynoso and Moran’s killing, according to sheriff’s officials. She has already been in custody since February in connection with an unrelated narcotics investigation, officials said.

The DA’s office already filed charges against Manuel Rios, Fregoso and Ruiz.

Rios was charged with two counts of first degree murder with a special circumstance allegation for killing of a witness, while Fregoso faces one count of first degree murder also with the special circumstance allegation for killing of a witness and one count of accessory after the fact.

DA Mike Hestrin identified the witness killed as Moran. However, he and Sheriff Bianco declined to give further details on the case including how the victims were killed or the suspected motive.

“Any details of the crime — we unfortunately won’t be able to give you that,” Bianco said.

Although he did say it appears the victims and three suspects initially arrested knew each other, and he commented on the brutality of the killing.

“Any killing is bad but this was not a particularly easy murder, if there is one,” Bianco said. “This was very bad.”

Anyone with information can reach investigators at 760-393-3544.

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