Police identify individuals in Visalia murder-suicide

July 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Visalia police try to calm nerves in the city after three murders in less than 24 hours.

The first homicides happened around 10:30 Friday morning at a home near Damsen and Demaree Avenues. That is where police say two people were killed in a targeted attack.

Twelve hours later officers say two more people died in what appeared to be a murder-suicide at a Visalia motel.

The Visalia Police Chief wants families to understand the two unrelated incidents were not random, the victims were targeted and detectives are determined to get to the bottom of both crimes.

At a news conference inside police headquarters Saturday morning Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas said no one at the department could remember having three homicides and a suicide occur in just one day.

"To have six homicides this early in the year is quite a lot in our city," said Mestas.

She insisted the murder-suicide in the parking lot of a motel in West Visalia was related to domestic violence, and appeared to be between a Fresno man and his ex-girlfriend.

Friday night police were dispatched to the La Quinta Inn on Cypress Avenue. When they got there they found 19-year-old Celina Simone Lopez shot and killed inside a car. Witnesses reported seeing the shooter, 25-year-old Carlos Navarro, drive another to the other side of the hotel parking lot and take his own life.

"We don't know the extent or duration of their relationship, but it was very clear that she wanted nothing to do with him any further and in fact may have begun another relationship which may have triggered what occurred yesterday," Mestas said.

The deaths occurred just hours after a man and woman were found dead inside this home on Damsen and Demaree.

"We believe it was a very targeted crime, it is not a crime by a random act by any suspect and our investigators have been working around the clock," said Mestas.

Mestas described the murder as "graphic and gruesome," but would not say how the two people died, nor reveal their identities. But neighbors tell us the couple is Jerry Murrillo and Marie Rogers and that Rogers is a former Visalia Unified employee.

This afternoon police found a car that may have been stolen from the home following that murder. The white Pontiac Sunfire was located in parking lot of the Visalia Marketplace Shopping Center.

Police would not say how they found the car, or if anyone was seen driving up or getting out of it.

Stay with Action News and abc30.com for more developments on the homicides.


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