It’s been a year since a Pomona man was arrested for allegedly killing his grandmother and dumping her body in the desert near the Nevada state line.
When authorities initially released information about the killing of Luisa Aguilar Ventura, there was no mention of what may have motivated 21-year-old Arturo Hernandez to allegedly kill his grandmother.
Recently obtained court documents reveal much about the case — including allegations that Hernandez had a drug habit and was violent toward his grandmother in the past — but fail to definitively identify an alleged motive.
Hernandez denied involvement in his grandmother’s death when he was interviewed by San Bernardino County sheriff’s detectives following his arrest, according to a declaration of probable cause attached to Hernandez’s court file.
He has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, and remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga pending resolution of his case. He is next due in Barstow Superior Court on Jan. 5.
On Nov. 16, 2008 at about 5:30 p.m., Hernandez and Ventura left Las Vegas together in Ventura’s Toyota Tacoma pickup truck to return home to Pomona. They had been visiting a relative in Las Vegas, authorities said.
The following day neither had arrived in Pomona, and family members filed a missing person’s report for Ventura with the Pomona Police Department.
One of Ventura’s daughters told police that Hernandez was a drug user who was released from jail in the past month, and she feared Hernandez could have possibly “done something” to his grandmother, according to a declaration written by San Bernardino County sheriff’s Detective Robert Warrick.
On Nov. 24, one of Ventura’s grandsons told police that Ventura told him a week prior to her disappearance that Hernandez had been hitting her.
Ventura also reportedly told her grandson that Hernandez asked her for money, but she didn’t have any. Hernandez reportedly responded by choking Ventura until she felt like she was going to pass out, the grandson told police, Warrick wrote.
On Nov. 20, Ventura’s truck was found abandoned in a parking lot at shopping center in the 1700 block of E. Main Street in Barstow. There had still been no contact between family members and Hernandez or Ventura.
Five days later, the body of a woman identified as Ventura, 58, was found behind a shrub by a truck driver who had exited the 15 Freeway to stretch at Cima Road, about 25 miles southwest of the Nevada state line, Warrick wrote.
Police found tire tracks, footprints and markings consistent with a dragged body in the dirt where Ventura’s body was found, according to Warrick’s declaration.
In an initial examination, a deputy coroner said it appeared Ventura suffered a broken neck and broken nose, Warrick wrote. She also had part of a purple bed sheet wrapped around her upper body, Warrick wrote.
When sheriff’s detectives searched Ventura’s abandoned pickup truck for evidence, they found blood drops on the center console and passenger side of the car. They also found a torn purple bed sheet in the trunk, Warrick wrote.
Investigators also found two fast-food receipts in the car dated Nov. 17. One was from a Jack in the Box in Yermo, timestamped 1:42 p.m. The other receipt, from a McDonald’s in Barstow, listed a time of 5:19 p.m., Warrick wrote.
On Nov. 27, family members found Hernandez in Pomona. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies contacted him, and he agreed to wait for detectives investigating Ventura’s killing, Warrick wrote.
The shoes Hernandez was wearing when he was found had soles that were “similar in both design and size to shoe impressions found near Ventura’s body,” Warrick wrote.
When investigators arrived, Hernandez told them he was not involved in his grandmother’s death, Warrick wrote.
He told investigators that his grandmother got angry at him in Las Vegas, kicked him out of her truck and left him at a gas station. He claimed he never saw Ventura again, Warrick wrote.
Hernandez told investigators that he hitchhiked with a truck driver who dropped him off in Bakersfield, and he hitchhiked from there back to the Los Angeles area, Warrick wrote.
He admitted during the interview that he ate at a Jack in the Box and a McDonald’s during his trip back to Los Angeles, Warrick wrote. Hernandez was booked on murder charges after the interview.
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