By Alex Distefano
Authorities in Riverside County say they have apprehended a male suspect in connection with three unsolved homicides in the cities of Perris and Nuevo. According to Riverside County DA spokesman John Hall, said that 25-year-old David Ray Contreras was arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at his home on Wilson Ave. in the city of Perris.
Hall said that Contreras was booked on three counts of murder, with the Riverside County District Attorney, for murder in 2012, and a double homicide of a woman and her daughter in Feb. 2013.
In the first incident, Contreras is alleged to have fatally stabbed 53-year-old Jose Apreza on Dec. 29, 2012 in Perris. Apreza’s wife called police to report her husband missing after he failed to return from walking their dog in the morning. His body was later found in an open field near Orange Avenue, and he suffered from multiple stab wounds on his body.
Hall said that because Contreras is also suspected in the Feb. 2013 fatal stabbings of 51-year-old Maria Gonzalez and her 25-year old daughter Consuelo in Nuevo, and other special circumstances; Contreras could be eligible for the death penalty. The women were found by Riverside County Sheriffs on Central Avenue, both bleeding and with multiple stab wounds. Both eventually died from their injuries.
“There is no connection or relationship between victim Jose Apreza and the murdered mother and daughter, Maria and Consuelo Gonzalez,” Hall said. There is also no known connection prior to the murders between defendant Contreras and any of his three victims.”
Hall would not reveal any personal detail about the suspect, but did elaborate about his past. “He (Contreras) was on probation at the time of the murders,” Hall said. “In that case, he was arrested in February for weapons possession. He pled guilty directly to the court and was sentenced by that judge to 204 days with credit for time served and three years of formal probation.”
Hall told the Weekly, that at this time, the case still remains to be an open investigation, but could not discuss any possible motives for the brutal killings. “I can tell you that these murders appear to be entirely random and completely unprovoked,” Hall said.
Hall said that Contreras could definitely be eligible for the death penalty. “One of the special circumstances is the commission of multiple murders and the other is a “lying in wait” allegation connected to the murders of Maria and Consuelo Gonzalez,” he said. “The decision on whether or not to seek the death penalty against a defendant rests solely with the elected District Attorney. District Attorney Paul Zellerbach will make that decision at a yet to be determined date.”
Hall said that he was unable to comment on the possibility of any other possible victims. But, he elaborated on how Riverside County Sherriff’s Central Homicide Unit was able to pinpoint Contreras as the suspect in these vicious, senseless murders in the community. “There is both physical evidence and DNA evidence in this case linking the defendant to the murders,” Hall said. “I cannot be more specific than that right now. We do not believe he directly knew the victims in this case.”
According to Hall, Contreras had his first court appearance Friday, Aug. 9, but failed to enter a plea, at the request of his defense attorney. Deputy Public Defender Andrea Rathburn, who represented Contreras, requested more time from the Court, to do more research in the case. There were no objections, and a new court date for Contreras was set for Aug. 27, 2013 at the Southwest Justice Center Court, in French Valley.