Funeral Fund Theft Suspect Indentified

January 9, 2009 10:07:22 PM PST
Investigators in the North Valley have identified the man wanted for stealing a convenience store collection jar.The Merced County Sheriff's Office says 51 year old Joseph Rodriguez is the person who stole the money that was supposed to help pay for a funeral.

This is video of Matthew Morroquin playing guitar before the 20 year old from Atwater was killed in a motorcycle accident in November. And this is surveillance video of the couple Merced County Sheriff's Deputies say stole a jar full of money from a convenience store that was supposed to help Marroquin's family pay for his funeral.

"When the jar got stolen we were all devastated, I just couldn't stop crying because we were thinking of the family," said Heather Lewis.

Detectives released the surveillance video on Tuesday in hopes someone would recognize the two suspects. And now they say the pictures are paying off.

"After playing the video, people seeing it on Channel 30 called in and recognized the male suspect as Joseph Anthony Rodriguez, 51 out of the Merced area," said Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

Detectives immediately started searching for Rodriguez, but they say he's been difficult to track down.

"Due to the nature of him being a transient and bouncing from house to house we're unable to locate him so far," said MacKenzie.

Now the Sheriff's Department is hoping someone will come forward with information about where Rodriguez and this unidentified woman accused of helping him may be.

Meanwhile Marroquin's friends are trying to make up for the two to three hundred dollars that was stolen so they can buy supplies for a fundraising barbecue.

"Right now we can't have our fundraiser because we don't even have a hundred dollars to help put it on," said Lewis.

They've postponed the dinner until March and are hoping more people will donate food and help fill the jars they've dropped off at businesses around the county.

"I just want to help the family as much as I can," said Tiffany Strickland.

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