Paulino Juarez, 34
Paulino Juarez, 34, a Latino man, was the victim of a gunshot through the heart at about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in a vacant house at 229 W. Gage St. in LAPD's Newton Division. His body was not found until noon Thursday, Dec. 20.
Detectives in this case found themselves investigating a homicide without a body: Newton Det. Julio Benavides said that on Dec. 9, detectives got an anonymous call that someone was cleaning up a house where a man had been shot.
Police arrived at the house and found several Latino males in their 20s scrubbing the abandoned house with Clorox. After some investigation, the detectives determined that some men had been in the house playing poker and drinking. There had been an argument over cheating. Someone had been shot, but it was unclear who. The body had been taken by some men in a stolen Honda Accord a few hours after the shooting. They had loaded it in the trunk and left the rest of the mess for the others to clean up.
Benavides and partner Det. Johnny Villa now had evidence of a murder, but no suspect and no body. They canvassed the neighborhood, and ran into a woman who was looking for her missing husband. The husband had been at the house playing poker, and had never returned.
Benavides and Villa suspected this missing man might be the murder victim. Finally, on Dec. 20, a city parking-ticket officer was preparing to impound a Honda Accord near a school in the 3800 block of 18th Street, and opened the trunk to do an inventory check. The body of Paulino Juarez, the missing husband, was inside, wrapped in a blanket. Detectives caught up with the suspect, 41-year-old Jesus Garcia, the same day, and arrested him. Victim Juarez had four children, three girls and a boy, all under the age of 7. He was a construction worker.