Court date looms for stepson and second suspect
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
The Riverside County Coroner’s office this week released new details in the death of a Hemet man who police believe was stabbed to death by his stepson and another man at a local mobile home park.
The 36-year-old victim was identified as Luis Perez, a resident of the Desert Palms Mobile Home Park, 1091 N. State St. in Hemet.
Efforts last week by The Valley Chronicle to identify the victim were thwarted by both the police, coroner’s office, and even the mobile home park. Instead of identifying the actual address of the murder, police listed the location as “1000 block of N. State Street” in its overly cautious policy to protect innocent victims by obfuscating the actual address rather than providing the true location, which was the Desert Palms Mobile Home Park. After an investigation by the Chronicle, it was determined that the stabbing happened at Desert Palms, a residential community known for its predominantly low-income residents.
When The Chronicle interviewed the manager of the park, she refused to divulge the name of the victim, the unit number where the stabbing occurred (turns out both of the suspects live in Unit 15), or anything else about the crime citing the family’s “privacy” as reasons for the restraint. “All we know is what you know,” the manager coyly told The Chronicle, although the opposite clearly was true. And when the Chronicle’s editor called the coroner’s office, she was abruptly dismissed with a “we’ll call you” but never followed up with the information by press time or any time later.
Nevertheless, by law, the coroner must eventually release the name of the victim, and it finally did in this case revealing the time of the stabbing – 11:20 p.m. on Sunday, May 13. Because of the extent of his injuries, Perez was rushed to the Riverside University Health System Medical Center, which is located in Moreno Valley at 26520 Cactus Ave. It was here that Perez died from his injuries early Monday at 3:24 a.m., presumably after doctors performed surgery to try to fix the damage caused by the weapon used in the stabbing attack.
While first responders were trying to save Perez’ life Sunday night, little was known about who might have dealt him the fatal stab wounds that would eventually lead him into the funeral parlor. However, good old fashioned police work by the Hemet Police Department’s Investigations Bureau the next day zeroed in on Perez’ stepson – Rodriguez – and another young man as possible culprits in the tragic killing.
Cooling their heels in the Southwest Detention Center while the judicial process grinds through the various steps to determine their guilt or innocence are Alonso Rodriguez Jr., 19, and Mario Delacruz, 20, who police believe are likely responsible for the gruesome killing. Rodriguez was booked into Riverside County Jail for investigation of murder and murder with malice. Delacruz is facing one charge of murder. Their upcoming court hearing in case 18-4817 is set for June 1. Unless their attorney is able to convince the judge that they’re not a flight risk and is able to get a reduction in bail, it’s unlikely either one of the young men is getting out of jail anytime soon. From their booking records, it appears Rodriguez is being held on $1 million bail on each of the two charges against him – or $2 million total. No bail is listed for Delacruz suggesting that, for the time being, he’s being held without bail
One interesting thing to note about the case is that any average person getting into a fight with Rodriguez might have a difficult time. He’s a big guy: 6 foot 3 and 260 pounds. Delacruz is of average build, 5 foot 5 and 130 pounds.
For now, no one is divulging the nature of the fight that led to Rodriguez’ stepfather’s death, but the killing of a stepparent sends chills down the collective back of every family. The most famous case of a child killing of a stepparent is that of Lizzie Borden, by far the most infamous stepchild murderer of all time.
Numerous books and movies have been made that depict what may have happened. Borden was accused of murdering her stepmother and father with an axe in 1892. The following year, however, she was acquitted of the crime. Many professionals suspect that she was guilty of the murder, though it remains unsolved. Today she is remembered in a morbid folk rhyme that children sing while skipping rope.