See Update No. 3 at the end of this post on the charges and maximum punishment facing the ex-boyfriend of the deceased.
See Update Nos. 1-2 on police seeking the deceased woman's ex-boyfriend as a “person of interest” in the case and then arresting him for the murder.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 14, 8:35 A.M.: Santa Ana residents contacted police Tuesday evening after a woman's body was found in an alley between the 200 blocks of North Laurel and North Jackson streets.
The victim stabbed multiple times was later identified as Maria Isabel Cerrillo, a 21-year-old resident of Santa Ana but not that neighborhood, according to police, who do not believe at this point the slaying was gang-related.
Roman Nafarrate, OC Homicide No. 45: Shot to Death in Anacrime Alley
Macaria Finefield, OC Homicide No. 44: Convicted Fatal Stabber is Fatally Stabbed
Robert Jay Liken, OC Homicide No. 32: Parolee is Suspected Stabber
Calls came in to police around 7:45 p.m., and officers on the scene reported Cerrillo had been stabbed multiple times, either there or her body was brought there.
That is among the holes the police department is hoping will be filled by witnesses or people who knew the victim. Anyone with information is urged to call SAPD at 714.245.8665 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.847.6227 or
visit occrimestoppers.org. Tips can be left anonymously.
UPDATE NO. 1, NOV. 15, 8:42 A.M.: The Santa Ana Police Department is seeking Luis Antonio Garcia Morales, 24, of Santa Ana, for questioning as a “person of interest” in the fatal stabbing of Maria Cerrillo.
But cops have not been able to find the deceased woman's former boyfriend, who reportedly told his employer Wednesday he had to leave for Mexico for a family emergency.
Here's why homicide detectives want to chat with him: family members say Cerrillo had tried to break up with Morales several times, but he would not accept it. She had moved on with her life and was about to become engaged to a man who resides in the Bay Area. And the kicker: Morales resides in the residential area where Cerrillo's body was found Tuesday evening.
Cerrillo's family is adamant Morales lured the woman to his home, stabbed her to death and dumped her body in the nearby alley, police say.
He is described as Hispanic, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Morales' whereabouts is asked to call police at 714.245.8665.
UPDATE NO. 2, NOV. 16, 8:16 A.M.: Luis Antonio Garcia Morales has been arrested for the murder of Maria
Santa Ana Police investigators, acting on a tip, spotted Morales near First Street and Harbor Boulevard Thursday morning and arrested him without incident. He was jailed in lieu of $1.1 million bail because he is considered a flight risk.
Police discovered Morales sold his 1992
Toyota Camry Wednesday night to a Garden Grove resident, something investigators believe was done to raise cash to flee to Mexico.
Morales is a cook with no gang ties, but homicide detectives are working on the theory that he laid in wait and
stabbed Cerrillo multiple times in the abdomen before leaving her body in an alley because she had spurned him romantically.
The Camry has been recovered, the murder weapon has not.
UPDATE NO. 3, NOV. 19, 10:19 A.M.: Luis Antonio Garcia Morales has learned the charges against him (one felony count of special circumstance murder by lying in wait with a
sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon) and the maximum punishment he faces with a conviction (life in state prison without the possibility of parole).
He'll get to make his first plea today, as the Orange County District Attorney's office just announced Morales had a 10 a.m. arraignment in the Central Jail in Santa Ana.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit drew the straw to prosecute the case.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.