Cardenas came to the apartments as a dragnet of sheriff's investigators closed in on him. The 23-year-old suspect came to see his girlfriend. In Spanish, her mother explained to Action News that Cardenas only came to leave his pickup truck behind. Fresno County sheriff's deputies put out a description of the truck a little while earlier.
His girlfriend's mother says Cardenas gave the keys to her daughter, told her the truck was low on gas, and then took off on foot. But the pickup truck drew a lot of attention. Neighbors recognized it and reported its location to sheriffs. They also couldn't help but spot Cardenas while he was with his girlfriend.
"He was out there last night with her and he was like real paranoid, like shaking and jumping and stuff," said witness Monica Rodriguez, who lives in the apartment complex with her two children. "I've never seen him before, but I know he's out here and he probably was looking at our kids and everything."
Rodriguez says knowing the suspect in such a heinous crime was so close to her children forced her to reconsider the precautions she'd used to keep her daughter safe.
"It makes me want to cry just thinking about it," she said. "I have a little girl that runs around these apartments and then yesterday I was looking for her everywhere and freaking out and she was in the back over there where they were at last night."
Action News also talked to an aunt who helped raise Cardenas. She's in disbelief at the whole situation, saying she's never seen him do anything like this. In fact, even though she knew about his prior arrest for annoying and molesting a girl in Dinuba in May, she's in denial that investigators have the right person. She said she's still waiting for sheriffs to arrest someone else.