A story for every victim

Reyna Malinda Hernandez, 26

Reyna Hernandez, a 26-year-old Latina, was found dead from forced drowning on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the 7300 block of Neo Street in Downey, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

Family members called police about 8 p.m. after they went into the apartment Hernandez shared with her boyfriend, Nicholas Christopher Quezada, 29, and their 1-year-old son, Jude Christopher Quezada, and found all three dead inside, said Downey Police Lt. Mark McDaniel. 

Hernandez, who was several months pregnant, was found in the bathroom with her son. Both were in the bathtub, which was filled with water, McDaniel said. 

Coroner’s records said Hernandez died from forced drowning and her son died of “asphyxiation—homicide.” Hernandez’s unborn child, a boy, was discovered during her autopsy on Oct. 25, and pronounced dead then, said the coroner’s Assistant Chief of Investigations Ed Winter. 

Quezada’s body was found in the bedroom and ruled a suicide by suffocation, according to coroner’s records. McDaniel said he couldn’t specify how Quezada killed himself until the investigation is complete, however there was no trauma to his body and he did not hang himself.  

Investigators believe Quezada killed his son and girlfriend before killing himself, McDaniel said. The family had lived in the apartment for more than a year and there was a history a domestic violence calls to the residence, he said.

Quezada used to work at Disneyland, McDaniel said, but he hadn’t shown up there for more than six months and appears to have been unemployed. Family members reported that Quezada also had some history of mental issues, he said. 

“We’re still trying to paint a picture of his past. Obviously you have to have some pretty serious issues to kill your girlfriend and young baby. I’ve been doing this [police work] for 25 years and this has been one of the hardest cases for me, and a lot of our detectives and officers feel the same way.”

Hernandez and Quezada had been living together for about four years, investigators said. 

The Times reported that Hernandez’s sisters became worried when they didn’t hear from her for a couple of days and asked the landlord to open the door to her apartment. Neighbors told investigators they hadn't heard anything from the apartment for a couple of days before the bodies were found. 

The Downey Police Department is providing a support program for officers who worked on the case, McDaniel said. “The bottom line is that we care about the people we come across, and when we see this kind of situation, it hurts and it’s something we’ll never forget. It’s important we have a place to express our feelings and not keep them bottled up, so we can keep doing our jobs in a professional manner.”  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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