Youth came running to protect his mother from abusive stepfather
■ By Taj Shorter / Reporter
After reading the page-one story in the May 24 issue of The Valley Chronicle, “Stepson and friend arrested in stepfather’s brutal murder,” Isabel Marie Alvarado, wife of Desert Palms fatal stabbing victim, Luis Perez, drove to the offices of the Chronicle to tell us her side of the story about the night her husband was mortally wounded in a knife attack.
The two started dating in 2013 when Luis moved from Los Angeles to Hemet and met Alvarado. They were only recently married on February 2 of this year. Isabel’s driver’s license didn’t reflect her new surname, Perez, and instead still stated Alvarado.
The fateful night of May 13, Isabel and husband Luis were driving back from Los Angeles when an argument erupted between the two. Sitting in the backseat of the vehicle was Isabel’s 11-year-old daughter. After a car ride marked by constant arguing, the two carried their disagreements all the way to their home in Hemet’s Desert Palms Mobile Home park, 1091 N. State St.
Isabel’s daughter got out of the vehicle while she and Luis stayed in the car and continued arguing. The fight eventually escalated to Luis punching Isabel in the face. Isabel’s daughter saw this and immediately texted her older brother, Alonso Rodriguez Jr., 19, Isabel’s son and Luis’ stepson. The daughter told Alonso that Isabel had been hit. Before her son had arrived, Isabel told her 11-year-old to immediately go inside the home.
At some point, Isabel and Luis got out of the car and continued their argument into a parking lot and eventually into a nearby field. Alvarado told us that Luis had a history of abuse where he would start hitting and wouldn’t stop. Once Alonso was informed that his mother was in danger, he immediately came to her aid.
Alonso and friends showed up at some point and there was an altercation that Isabel claims she did not actually see happen since she had gone inside. She does say, however, that the attack was witnessed by another person. After the attack, Alvarado claims that the next thing she knew, Perez was stumbling backwards inside the home with a bloodied shirt. She says she assessed his injuries – she is a medical assistant trained in first aid – and tore open his shirt to see if there were any fatal wounds. Alvarado insisted that the only fatal wound she saw was on his wrist and that she immediately wrapped it to stop the bleeding.
Based on Alvarado’s story, once police arrived, Alonso and his friends had already fled the scene. Meanwhile, the police questioned then detained Alvarado and her children. Her youngest – ages 2 and 4 – were placed into custody. The 11, 9, and 7-year olds were detained at the scene. The children were outside and cold until around 1 a.m, she said.
Police and first responders did not allow Alvarado to ride with her husband in the ambulance and refused to let her go to the hospital, where he died before seeing her again. After being detained until 1 a.m, her other daughters were finally placed in the custody of Luis’ family while Alvarado was taken to Hemet Police headquarters where she was detained for two days, she says. Alvarado says she was never told she was under arrest, only that she was being detained, but was not informed why. (In most states, prosecutors have up to 72 hours to bring charges. But certain states, including California, give prosecutors only 48 hours before they must file charges or release a suspect.)
Alonso and a friend, Mario Delacruz, 19, were picked up by police the next day in a dramatic stop that temporarily closed Florida Ave. According to Alvarado, Delacruz has since been released. After a search of inmates incarcerated in Riverside County Jail, it’s indicated that he is no longer being held there.
Alvarado claimed a third person has been arrested by police in connection with the crime and placed in custody, but Hemet PD’s Lt. Glen Brock could not confirm either that there is a third suspect or that a third person is being detained. Alvarado maintains that her son is not the one who killed her husband, insisting that “he didn’t do it.”
Alonso, however, was aware of Luis’ abuse towards his mother and had told him on at least one previous occasion to stop abusing her, says Alvarado. The two had gotten into a fight previously when Alonso was a minor. She said the police were called during that incident by her daughter, but they never showed up. She also informed us that her son, Alonso, whom she admits is in a gang, nevertheless has no criminal record and the only altercation he ever had with police was when he was in 12th grade. He was stopped by police while he was riding a skateboard; an incident that resulted in a fractured nose. Besides that, he has no criminal record and he is currently “a working man” employed as a roofer by a local roofing company, says his mother.
According to Alvarado, during the detainment on the scene, the police confiscated all of the family’s electronics inside the residence, including the 11-year- old daughter’s laptop, which she needs for school.
Later, Detective Alvarez, an investigator on the case, used the laptop as a reason to visit Isabel’s daughter at her school to question her under the pretense of returning the laptop, according to the mother. Isabel was at work and unaware that the detective had gone to question her daughter who is a minor. Apparently, Isabel’s daughter told her mother later that Alvarez had called her “a liar” during a portion of the schoolhouse interview.
Alvarado explained that Luis had a long rap sheet of domestic violence charges. She even told us that Luis had threatened her life multiple times and that he was an alcoholic. He had been in and out of jail and was on probation at the time of his death.
Despite the abuse, Isabel and Luis had a strong connection. Unfortunately, their three-month marriage ended in a bloody scene of domestic violence that undoubtedly will affect both his and her families – and their children – for the rest of their lives.
“I loved Luis, but I can’t change what happened,” she said. “I have to think about the children now.”