Wednesday, March 4, 2015

“Friend” Charged in 2002 Cold Case Murder of 15-year-old in CA

Twelve years after the body of 15-year-old Brenda Sierra (above) was discovered in San Bernardino, California, authorities arrested Rosemary Chavira, 27 (who was a “friend” of Brenda’s) near her home in Lancaster and ordered her jailed without bail Tuesday in connection with the murder.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Brenda was kidnapped on 18 October 2002, while walking to a friend’s house to catch a ride to School in Montebello. Sierra was taken to a home on Williamson Street in East Los Angeles where she was sexually assaulted. Later she was taken to the 900 block of Miller where she was bludgeoned to death. Her body was later dumped in the Crestline area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

The case had been cold for 12 years until Rosemary’s (above) arrest Friday. The case was transferred from San Bernardino to L.A. County investigators in 2008. Investigators have said Sierra was killed by East Los Angeles gang members to intimidate or retaliate against her brother and mother, who had witnessed a gang drive-by shooting a few weeks earlier. Sierra’s brother had testified against gang members in connection to that shooting just 10 days before the kidnapping. “We now know that her abduction was not only in retaliation for his testimony but also to send a message to the neighborhood not to cooperate with law enforcement,” Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dave Coleman said, reports the station.

Authorities expect to charge at least three other people within the next 30 days, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Investigators on the case previously released sketches of two unknown gang members and asked for the public’s help in finding them. Those two are now in custody, and authorities are now looking for a third man, George Barraza (above, middle), who is believed to be in Mexico but may travel back and forth across the border and is wanted on a previous drug conviction. In 2012, detectives said they believed that one or two females might have made contact with Brenda on the street and facilitated her abduction. Sierra had no gang affiliations, according to investigators. She attended Schurr High School in Montebello, as did Chavira.

Authorities say it was a lengthy investigation, with DNA evidence, surveillance video, and witnesses to the abduction. At the press conference, Lt. Coleman (above, middle) said that they believe Rosemary coordinated the kidnapping and was present during the rapes and during the murder. Rosemary has been charged with special circumstances felony murder during commission of a kidnapping, rape, and gang allegations. Rosemary pled not guilty at her arraignment this afternoon. If convicted of this crime Rosemary could, and most likely would, face life in prison. 

Lt. Coleman praised the family for doing the right thing…“We have to praise Brenda [Sierra]'s family and her brother for standing up and doing what was right, and unfortunately, Brenda probably gave her life for that.”

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