A story for every victim

Jose Rodriguez Cumplido, 35

Jose Cumplido, a 35-year-old Latino, was shot and killed on Thursday, Feb. 2, in the 200 block of Nicobar Avenue in Lancaster, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.

Cumplido lived in an apartment with two other men in an industrial building that also houses a body shop, said L.A. County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Martindale. He had been living in the area for about three months and worked for the landlord in a landscaping business, Martindale said. 

Early on Feb. 2, one of Cumplido’s roommates, Mario Jose Estrada, a 24-year-old mechanic for an aerospace company, called his brother and said he had killed Cumplido, Martindale said. 

"He supposedly said something to the effect of, ‘I had to do it,’" Martindale said. “But we don’t know if that statement is self-serving or credible.”

Estrada’s brother and mother went to his home and urged him to contact authorities, Martindale said. Estrada refused, so the brother, mother and third roommate went to the Lancaster sheriff’s station.

When deputies arrived at the apartment around 7 a.m., Estrada was gone, and the gas stove was on and burning some items, Martindale said. Smoldering carpet was in a large trash bin in the living room, and in the bedroom, deputies found blood and areas where carpet had been cut out. 

About the time the deputies were turning off the gas in the apartment, a woman who lived nearby looked out her window at a vacant lot in the 44700 block of Division Street, behind the apartment where Estrada and Cumplido lived, and saw a man lying in the dirt. 

The man was later identified as Cumplido, Martindale said. He had a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:10 a.m., according to coroner’s records.

Investigators believe Cumplido was shot in the apartment, Martindale said, and then dragged to the field in a large wheeled trash can, which was taken back to the apartment and left in the living room. 

Estrada turned himself in at the sheriff’s station the next morning, accompanied by several family members, Martindale said. He was arrested and jailed in lieu of $3.05 million bail. 

Estrada was charged with murder Feb. 7, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, and is scheduled to be arraigned March 21 in the Antelope Valley courthouse. 

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting, The third roommate told investigators he was sleeping and didn’t hear or see anything, Martindale said. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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