WHITTIER >> A Whittier man faces 24 years in state prison after pleading “no contest” Wednesday to charges related to this ongoing molestation of a 5-year-old family member, authorities said.
Jonathan Javier Ruvalcaba, 29, pleaded no contest to charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child and committing forcible lewd acts on a child during an appearance in Norwalk Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
He is scheduled to return to court Oct. 5 for sentencing, when he’s expected to be sentenced to 24 years in state prison, Ardalani said in a written statement.
Ruvalcaba began molesting the young girl in 2010 and continued the abuse for three years, officials said. Investigators learned of the abuse in October of 2013, and arrested Ruvalcaba in May of 2013 following seven months of investigation, Ardalani said.
In addition to his prison term, Ruvalcaba will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
PHOTO of Jonathan Ruvalcaba courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, friends and community members marched through South Whittier Friday in a call for justice for the murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout Cesar Rodriguez, who was gunned down four years ago along with a friend in a double-slaying that remains unsolved.
Led by a young relatives of Rodriguez carrying his picture and a banner stating, “We want justice,” the group met at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street before marching through the neighborhood, past the scene of the shooting, and heading to Amelia Mayberry Park for a candlelight vigil.
Rodriguez, 19, was shot to death along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, on Aug. 28, 2011, as they left the home of a friend in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue.
Rodriguez’s loved ones have held the march each year since the double-slaying.
“We’ll be here every year until that person, or persons, come to justice,” Rodriguez’s mother Lupe Rodriguez said. “Cesar will never be forgotten.”
Also marching was Rodriguez’s father, Jorge Rodriguez, as well as brothers George and Hector, along with numerous other family members.
The group came to a stop and stood in silence when the procession reached the driveway where Rodriguez and Villegas were shot. Immediate family members laid flowers and candles at the spot, as dozens of sheriff’s Explorer Scouts stood in a stoic salute.
All along the march route, Explorers handed out fliers seeking information on the unsolved killings, with messages in both English and Spanish.
Lupe Rodriguez said she looks forward to the day when her son’s killer is arrested and the march will no longer be necessary.
But in the meantime, she said she felt encouraged by the strong show of community support.
“I think it gets bigger every year,” she said, adding that she was grateful to the community.
Homicide detectives have been left with few clues to work with, and the case remains unsolved, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The sergeant took part in the march, as he has done each year since the shooting.
“As you can see, the support for Cesar and this investigation has not waned,” he said.
Sgt. Rodriguez said he remains optimistic that he and his fellow investigators will ultimately bring Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers to justice.
“This case ha not gone cold,” he said.
Both the investigator and Lupe Garcia said they believe there are people who know who killed Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas, but have yet to come forward. They both implored any such witnesses to do so.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, including fellow Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scouts, will march Friday to honor the life of a 19-year-old Whittier man shot to death four years ago along with 24-year-old friend, as well as renew their call for justice in the unsolved double-slaying.
Lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez, who dreamed of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, was gunned down Aug. 28, 2011, along with Larry Villegas of Whittier as the two left a friend’s home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in unincorporated South Whittier.
The killing remains unsolved.
Friends, family members and law enforcement officials will gather for a Mass at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Pious X Church, 10827 Pioneer Blvd. in Santa Fe Springs, before gathering at 7 p.m. at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street in South Whittier, said Rodriguez’s brother, George Rodriguez.
Marchers will then walk past the shooting scene to Amelia Mayberry Park, 13201 Meyer Road in South Whittier.
Similar marches were held 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez worked as an explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station for four years prior to his death and planned to pursue a career as a sheriff’s deputy, sheriff’s officials said.
George Rodriguez said he remains hopeful his brother’s killer will be found and brought to justice, and wanted anyone with information about the shooting to provide that information to investigators.
Detectives have followed up on information regarding possible persons of interest over the past year, but nothing has developed into a solid lead, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “We’re back to square one.”
Corina also asked that anyone with information come forward. “They can be anonymous if they want,” he said.
Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WHITTIER >> A probation compliance search Friday led Whittier police to recover a $50,000 bronze statue taken from a Santa Fe Springs, authorities said.
Steven Mercado, 34, was booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property and drug violations following his 8:30 a.m. arrest at a home in the 13800 block of Danbrook Drive, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
As officers visited Mercado’s home to conduct a probation compliance check, “They contacted Steven Mercado, who was in possession of a stolen bronze statue,” according to the statement.
The statue, which depicts a construction workers, was stolen on July 2, 2015 from the Kiewit construction company., 10704 Shoemaker Ave. in Santa Fe Springs, police said.
“Unfortunately, at the time of the recovery, the statue was in several pieces,” the statement said.
According to county booking records, Mercado was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTO courtesy of the Whittier Police Department
WHITTIER >> A 6-year-old boy escaped serious injury when he was thrown from a car in a multi-vehicle crash in Whittier Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The crash took place about 3:35 p.m. on Pickering Avenue at Pasadena Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. It involved three occupied vehicles, as well as another parked, unoccupied vehicle, he said.
Police responded to the crash scene from throughout the city after officials received a report that a 6-year-old boy had been thrown from the wreckage and was lying in the roadway, Ellis said.
But officials arrived to find the boy suffering from no apparent serious injuries, the lieutenant said. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Seven other people complained of pain following the crash, he said.
The circumstances and cause of the crash remained under investigation, Ellis said.
WHITTIER >> Police are planning to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint Friday, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Whittier, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years, DUI-related crashes have killed three people and resulted in 188 injuries within the Whittier Police Department’s jurisdiction, Sgt. David Elizarraras said.
Funding for this weekend’s checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
WEST COVINA >> Police jailed an alleged car thief following a chase Sunday after using a LoJack system to track him to the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant, officials said.
Police ultimately jailed Eric Gonzales, 38, of Whittier on suspicion of auto theft, evading police and resisting arrest, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The incident began about 9:30 a.m. when police detected a LoJack signal emitted from a 2005 Acura Integra reported stolen in Montebello earlier in the day, the lieutenant said.
With help from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, officers followed the signal to a McDonald’s restaurant on Vincent Avenue, just south of the 10 Freeway, where they spotted him waiting in line at the drive-thru, Patton said.
Once the Acura exited the restaurant, officers tried to pull the car over, he said. “Initially the suspect yielded, but abruptly took off at a high rate of speed.”
Gonzales led officers on a chase down the 10 and 605 freeways before abandoning his car at the Whittier Boulevard offramp of the 605, Patton said. The suspect continued fleeing on foot, but was quickly chased down and captured by an officer.
WEST WHITTIER >> A man suffered a slash to his wrist in a seemingly unprovoked attack at a gas station in an unincorporated county area just west of Whittier late Friday, officials said.
The victim, a man in his early-20s, told deputies he was at a gas station at Washington Boulevard and Norwalk Avenue about 11 p.m. when a man he did not know flagged him down, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Vasquez said.
When the victim rolled down the window of his car, the suspect started stabbing at him with a 6- to 7-inch long knife, the sergeant said.
The victim suffered a wound to his left wrist, Vasquez said. He drove himself to a local hospital for treatment.
Officials described the attacker as a black man, 30 to 35 years old, with braces on his teeth, about 5 feet 7 inches tall an 180 pounds.
The investigation was being handled by deputies from the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station.
WEST WHITTIER >> Deputies shot and wounded a man late Wednesday in a residential neighborhood just west of Whittier, officials said.
The shooting took place about 11:40 p.m. in the 12000 block of Rosehedge Drive, in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The suspect’s condition is unknown,” Moody said. “No deputies were injured.”
No further details were available early Thursday.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are spearheading the investigation.
WHITTIER >> A Whittier man fleeing from police in a stolen van crashed violently into a tree before being arrested Sunday morning, police said.
Ruben Torres, 23, is accused of auto theft and resisting police, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
An officer spotted Torres driving a van that had been reported stolen Saturday in Whittier in an alley to the rear of Penn Street, near Milton Avenue, the lieutenant said.
The van sped away before the officer could turn on his lights and sirens to pull it over, Dean said. As the van sped around the corner, the driver lost control and the van careened into a tree in front of an apartment building, uprooting the tree and causing major damage to the van.
Police quickly apprehended the driver, who was taken to a hospital for examination before being booked into jail.
The same neighborhood was the scene of a shooting late Friday, though Dean said there was no indication the incidents were related.