Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives are offering an $80,000 reward in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for three homicides they believe to be connected in East Los Angeles.
The slayings occurred within 2.2 miles of each other in East L.A in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
“We know there were witnesses at every murder,” said Homicide Bureau Capt. Joe Mendoza.
Detectives say witnesses accounts coupled with crime scene surveillance video allowed them to compile a good description of two suspects.
The first killing occurred Feb. 10, 2014, at approximately 10:50 p.m.
The victim, 34-year-old Jesse Avalos, had received a phone call from an acquaintance asking for help jumpstarting his vehicle near the intersection of Telegraph Road and Arizona Avenue.
Avalos helped with the jumpstart about 15 minutes later. A few hours after, around 3:25 a.m., deputies received a phone call about an injured person on the 4800 block of Telegraph Road in East L.A..
Deputies found Avalos on the driver’s seat of his blue SUV with numerous gunshot wounds. The hood of his SUV was found open and two people were seen around the vehicle.
The second homicide occurred July 6, 2015, when the victim, 38-year-old Eduardo Robles, was involved in a physical altercation on the driveway of a residence on the 4300 block of Eagle Street.
Robles was visiting the residence and approximately 15 people were present when the incident occurred, investigators said.
After the fight, an assailant jumped over a wrought-iron fence to the street, walked over to Robles’ vehicle and punctured the four tires with a sharp object before fleeing the scene.
The same person returned five minutes later and shot Robles several times in the upper torso, deputies said.
The gunman was picked up by another person in a light-green vehicle.
“I speak for my family as well as the other two families. We don’t have closure, we don’t have justice and I’m sure all of these families are still suffering,” said Avalos’ eldest sister, Maria Orozco. “Please help us. Please come forward with any information you may have.”
Avalos’ sister Bertha Avalos added, “Our brother is truly missed by our family, by his children.”
The third incident occurred on April 22, 2018, at approximately 2:40 a.m.
The killer exited the passenger side of a silver PT Cruiser in search of 27 year-old Amanda “Nikki” Lopez in a homeless encampment located in a courtyard in front of the East Los Angeles Courthouse.
The assailant found Lopez in a tent in front of the field office of First District Supervisor Hilda Solis, placed a firearm into the tent and fatally shot her in the torso while she slept, officials said.
Witnesses described the main suspect in all three of the murders as a Hispanic man in his late 20s with short hair, measuring around 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a medium build. They said he has a tattoo on his neck with unknown writing.
The second suspect drives the getaway vehicle and described as a Hispanic man in his mid- to late 40s, between 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a heavy-set build and possibly a mustache.
“One of the things that’s unique about L.A. County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is that we are centralized and we commonly speak to other investigators about our cases,” Mendoza said. “So when investigators were comparing notes on cases, they believed they had similar descriptions of the suspects and that’s when they really started to connect the dots. The link was the descriptions of the suspects who were similarly described.”
After detectives compared the ballistic evidence from the 2014 shooting of Avalos with the evidence from the 2015 killing of Robles, they determined the same handgun was used in both cases.
Although a motive for the slayings was unclear, investigators believe the victims were known to the suspects and were specifically targeted based on their relationships with the suspects.
The reward was sponsored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.