One Victim, Five Suspects and a Metric Buttload of Felony Charges (Including Murder)
By Jesse B. Gill
When Riverside County sheriff’s deputies stumbled across Renteria’s dead body Aug. 10 in an unincorporated portion of county land near Perris, he seemed like your standard dead guy on the side of the road, if there is such a thing.
Sheriff’s dispatchers received a report of a dead body about 5:30 p.m. that day. The deputies arrived at the intersection of Webster Avenue and Harley Knox Boulevard and sure enough, there Renteria was, no longer breathing, no longer counted among the living.
At first, there were no suspects and all sheriff’s officials would say about the case was that the 34-year-old Moreno Valley resident was a victim of a homicide.
Oh yeah, and that whoever killed him did the deed in his home city only to dump the body near that very rural intersection in the middle of nowhere.
A few days later, word broke of the first arrest. It wouldn’t be the last.
Investigators arrested Fallon Flores, 29, in Moreno Valley in the wee hours of the morning on Aug. 13. They booked her without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in downtown Riverside.
Why was she arrested? Well, sheriff’s officials still won’t say.
“There is still an ongoing investigation into this case,” said Dep. Albert Martinez.
That investigation seems to have been fairly fruitful so far—it’s led to no fewer than four other arrests for the same killing.
Authorities arrested 27-year-old Angelo Arredondo later in the day on Aug. 13 when they found him hiding out in Colton. Elizabeth Renee Garcia, 19, was arrested the very next day.
Four days later, on Aug. 20, investigators served a search warrant at a home in the 24000 block of Poppystone Drive in Moreno Valley and arrested Jonathan Oporta, 23, and Reyna Mosqueda, 20.
Five suspects (three women and two men), yet sheriff’s officials refused to release a single detail as to why these people were wanted for the murder of the same man.
Martinez said there are lots of reasons why detectives don’t want the details of their investigations released to the public while they’re trying to make sure the people they believe did whatever dirty deed don’t get to see the light of day for a very long time (we may have paraphrased that, slightly).
“Well, first of all, it can be because there are suspects that are still wanted, or there is evidence that (investigators) are still working on,” he said. “By releasing details right away, it could affect the investigation when they are trying to complete it.”
As a completely fictitious example (that Martinez did not pose, by the way), let’s say that detectives were investigating the murder of one John Doe. No, that name’s too lame. Let’s call him Johnny Doe (much better). And let’s say that Johnny was killed in a very specific way—with the butter knife, in the drawing room, by Colonel Mustard.
Now let’s say that police knew how and where Johnny died, but they didn’t know who did it, after all that Colonel Mustard is a slippery (and delicious) bastard. And—being completely inept fictional detectives—they told the public what they knew about the murder weapon and the location despite not having made a fictional arrest.
By doing that, they just made their fake jobs exponentially more difficult. Before they released that information, the only person who knew those details was a certain Colonel Mustard and if they were to ever interview him, his knowing those details wouldn’t help the investigators narrow down their list of suspects because everybody in the everywhere would already knew the dirt.
OK, enough with the hypotheticals and back to the killing of Fernando Renteria.
We asked Dep. Martinez if there were any other outstanding suspects in the slaying and he told us he didn’t know, possibly because detectives were keeping him in the dark as well.
And while the murder weapon and methodology have still been kept secret, the alleged motive seems to have been revealed by the charges facing each of the five suspects.
They’ve all been charged with a laundry list of crimes, most of them felonies—six for Oporta , seven for Mosqueda, eight for Flores and Arredondo and 16 for Garcia (though nine of those were outstanding warrants for minor offenses).
All five suspects were charged with murder and all five suspects were charged with robbery, kidnapping to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony.
So, if those charges stick, some or all five suspects could face the death penalty if convicted, since Renteria was killed in commission of at least two other felonies.
Of course, there’s always the chance that any or all of them may take a plea bargain to avoid death and it’s also not outside the realm of possibility that one or more of the suspects may testify against the rest of the group in exchange for some kind of leniency.
And soon enough, the suspects will start their long march toward trial, where we’ll get a clearer picture of why they were all arrested and accused of killing and trying to rob the same very unlucky man.
The suspects are due to be arraigned Aug. 31 in Riverside Superior Court.