17-Yr-Old Suspected of Killing a Visalia Woman

June 4, 2009 6:57:55 PM PDT
Visalia Police are revealing new details in the murder of a woman near a city park. Detectives say injuries on the hand of the suspect led them to arrest the seventeen year old.Police say Maria Juarez was stabbed to death. An autopsy revealed she died from multiple stab wounds with no witnesses to the killing, police say they found the suspect after figuring out he was wounded during the attack.

Visalia Police arrested a 17-year old boy near the ice house theater Wednesday night for the murder of 41-year old Maria Juarez also known as Maria Vasquez. One key clue helped them crack the case ... they believed the suspect hurt himself as he was stabbing Juarez.

Sgt. Steve Phillips said, "So we started asking people in the area if they'd seen anyone who'd been injured."

Witnesses came forward describing a 17-year old with bandages on his hand who lived by the Ice House Theater ... less than a mile from where Juarez was killed. Detectives found the teenager right by the theater a short while later.

"Then with the assistance of Tulare County Probation we later found further evidence that lead him to arrest him as a suspect in this homicide," said Sgt. Phillips.

Police believe the suspect stabbed Maria Juarez with a knife as she was traveling through a walkway by Lincoln Oval Park on Monday. Police say it happened between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. and that the 17-year old was trying to rob Juarez.

Friends of the boy who wouldn't go on camera say they're shocked by the killing adding it is out of character for him. Neighbors say they feel scared leaving their house at night.

Esther Mirador said, "It gets me nervous as well it gets me really nervous that we can't even step out of our own little area here to go and get whatever we need."

Mirador was surprised not only that the alleged murdered lived right near her but that he is so young.

"It hurts me, it hurts me that they're just getting so younger now about things that are happening around here," said Mirador.

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