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Arturo Juarez SUAREZ





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 4
Date of murder: July 14, 1998
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: August 15, 1967
Victims profile: Jose Luis Martinez, 37; their children, Jack, 5, and Arele, 3; and brother, Juan Manuel Martinez, 28 (relatives of his estranged wife)
Method of murder: Shooting / Asphyxia (buried alive)
Location: Auburn, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 5, 2001

On July 14, 1998, Arturo Juarez Suarez, a ranch worker in Auburn, California, lured the family of his estranged wife to a cattle ranch, killed her niece, nephew and two brothers and buried the bodies under a blackberry thicket.

Arturo Juarez Suarez was being sought for questioning in the slayings on the remote 160-acre horse and cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Authorities said he also raped his estranged wife's sister-in-law.

Authorities were called when the 30-year-old alleged rape victim regained consciousness, untied herself and escaped from a trailer on the ranch. She told investigators that Suarez called his in-laws and asked for help retrieving a deer he claimed to have killed near his trailer on the ranch. After the family arrived, Suarez and his two brothers-in-law went into the woods. Suarez returned alone.

He then tied up, raped and beat his sister-in law while her children played in a screen porch outside the trailer, authorities said. When she regained consciousness, both Suarez and her children were gone. The bodies of her husband, Jose Luis Martinez, 37; their children, Jack, 5, and Arele, 3; and Martinez's younger brother, Juan Manuel Martinez, 28, were discovered in a shallow grave the following day.


Arturo Juarez Suarez

May 5, 1999

The trial for Arturo Juarez Suarez, a 31-year-old Auburn ranch hand charged with the rape of a Galt woman and the murders of four members of her family, is set to begin on October 12.

Suarez could be sentenced to death if convicted of killing Jose Luis Martinez, 37, a Galt landscaper; his son, Jack, 5; daughter, Arele, 3; and brother, Juan Manuel Martinez, 28, and the rape of his 32-year-old wife.

All four homicide victims were found buried in a common grave on the ranch where Suarez was employed as a seasonal worker.


Arturo Juarez Suarez

Sacramento Bee

April 18, 2001

CALIFORNIA: A jury convicted an Auburn ranch hand Wednesday of sexually assaulting a Galt woman and slaying four members of her family in July of 1998.

Arturo Juarez Suarez, 33, was found guilty of multiple murder counts and rape by the Napa County jury, qualifying Suarez for the death penalty.

The jury will return April 30 for the death penalty phase. The only other possible sentence for Suarez is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Suarez confessed to the killings shortly after his arrest and at trial accepted responsibility for all four deaths and the kidnap and beating of the woman.

However, his attorneys denied he was guilty of rape or premeditation in the killings.

A confession Suarez made to investigators shortly after his arrest was damning.

The Auburn ranch hand not only confessed to the slayings of two children and 2 men, but he also admitted that if he'd been given the opportunity, the children's mother would have joined the victims in their common grave, court records show.

Suarez revealed that he dug a hole to hide the bodies several days before the crimes and was on his way back to kill the woman when police arrived, interrupting his plan to massacre the entire family, according to the transcript of a videotaped statement he gave to two Placer County sheriff's detectives.

The trial was moved from Placer County to Napa County because of publicity.

The defense challenged the validity of the Spanish-to-English translation of Suarez's statements.

In July of 1998, Suarez was a seasonal worker who for 3 or 4 years had lived in a trailer parked in an enclosed yard at the sprawling Parnell horse and cattle ranch off Mt. Vernon Road in the Sierra foothills.

Although estranged from his wife, Maria Isabela, and their daughter, who resided in Mexico, Suarez remained in touch with his wife's brothers, Jose Luis Martinez, 37, and Juan Manuel Martinez, 28, along with Jose's family, a wife and 2 children, who lived in Galt.

But according to Suarez's taped confession, there was friction between Suarez and the Martinez family.

The Martinezes didn't "accept" him as part of the family, and he didn't like the way they treated him, Suarez said in the taped interview.

His festering resentment brought on pain, "nervousness" and, eventually, a plan to kill them all, according to documents.

The plan that emerged involved digging a hole large enough to hold 5 bodies, a feat Suarez said he nervously accomplished in about 3 hours on the Monday or Tuesday before that fateful Sunday, July 12, documents show.

"Even when I was making the hole, I would be trembling," Suarez recalled.

On Sunday, Jose Martinez and his wife arrived in Auburn with their son, Jack, 5, and daughter, Arele, 3, along with Jose's brother, Juan, for a prearranged visit with Suarez.

A week earlier, Martinez had agreed to pick up Suarez in his car and take him back to the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento, where he was to renew his immigration documents.

While the children played in the yard and their mother washed the car, Suarez led the Martinez brothers to a spot on the perimeter of the ranch where a blackberry thicket covered the terrain and the makeshift grave had been prepared, according to court documents.

There, some 300 yards from the trailer, Jose Martinez was shot twice in the head and Juan Martinez three times in the head.

Suarez initially told officers he'd taken the rifle "to shoot roosters or something" and that the 2 men were hit by "accident" during a struggle after they'd accused him of cheating on his wife, their sister, documents say.

He also told detectives that it wasn't until after he'd shot the Martinez brothers that he dug the hole, documents show.

But the investigators pointed out that one of the gun's shell casings had been found in the hole. "It couldn't have been there if you had not already dug the hole," one detective told him.

After dragging the bodies of the 2 men into the grave, Suarez said he returned to his trailer and bound and beat the woman in front of her crying children. He denied raping her, but admitted cutting off her clothing with a pair of scissors "so if she got loose she wouldn't go out," according to the documents.

Leaving the woman tied and taped to a chair, Suarez said he led the children, Arele and Jack, by the hand toward the grave, then hit them both repeatedly, either with a stick or a shovel, and tossed them in the hole atop their father and uncle, the documents said.

"I don't know whether they were alive or dead," Suarez told the detectives. Subsequent autopsy results indicated that both children were alive when the hole was filled with dirt and had died of asphyxiation.

Suarez said he started back toward his trailer to get the woman he'd assaulted. "First I was going to take her to see the children .... And then I was going to kill her," the transcript quotes him as saying.

The defense contended that this part of the transcript is "prejudicially flawed" because it does not accurately reflect the words that were actually spoken.

Whatever his words were, Suarez discovered that the woman was no longer where he'd left her. She had freed herself and managed to get to another house on the property. The residents there had summoned sheriff's deputies.

When Suarez spotted the arriving patrol cars, he took cover on a hill and watched as deputies began looking for the missing men and children, he said.

Searchers didn't find the grave until the following morning, and by then, Suarez had walked into Auburn, caught a ride with a motorist into Sacramento, then headed south to a relative's home in Wilmington, near Long Beach.

He was captured there on July 15.


Arturo Juarez Suarez



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