Fresno County homicide detective dies of COVID-19 complications

The longtime deputy died last night at 44 years old. He was hospitalized recently for health-related issues.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A longtime Fresno County Sheriff's detective has died after contracting COVID-19.

Forty-four-year-old Deputy Jose Mora was hospitalized for several weeks after he became ill while investigating a local murder that took him out of state.

His unexpected death has stunned the homicide unit which lost an invaluable investigator and friend.

At Fresno County Sheriff's headquarters, Detective Mora's empty, the impeccable office is even hard to walk past.

"Last week we were floating around a get well card signing it and we were going to give it to him this week but it's shocking," said homicide sergeant, Jon Alvarado.

Deputy Mora left his office four weeks ago, headed to Oklahoma to solve a homicide case. But by the time he returned to the Valley, he was sick and admitted into the hospital.

Another deputy who also made the cross-country trip also contracted COVID-19 but is recovering.

Sgt. Alvarado thought Mora's condition was improving when he suddenly plummeted and died.

"His passing was never on the radar. You know we did have contact early on it through the phone via text message until it got to be too much. And they we were directly speaking to the wife- I was," said Alvarado.

Mora was one of a kind. He had a loud, contagious laugh and plenty of quirks other detectives loved to point out. He set the pace for the other investigators and was known as the workhorse of the homicide unit.

"He was my go-to guy, hey, sure thing Mora's going to come out and work this case and he's going work it until he exhausts all leads," said Alvarado.

Mora spoke spanish which helped him in his job, but also meant a bigger case load. He handled many of the major Fresno County murders and was frequently put on the stand as the prosecution's main witness.

In September 2019, testifying in one of his many cases, he told the court matter of factly, "I think she was trying to not be truthful with me at first and she had this hard shell. She even expressed she didn't like police or talking to police."

For 16 years, Deputy Mora worked primarily in patrol and as a detective. But he also spent some time in the courts and jail.

To honor him Tuesday, the units brahma bull statue was been placed in his office. It moves from desk to desk signifying the detective who filed the latest homicide case.

"That bull 100 percent symbolizes Jose. We'll definitely make an inscription on there as paralleling his work style," said Alvarado.

Away from work, he was a father and husband. He and his wife would have celebrated their third anniversary Wednesday.

Early Tuesday, an overnight procession from the hospital to the funeral home honored his life and service to the community.

Even though Deputy Mora's passing is considered a line of duty death, because of the pandemic, his funeral will not be large. To date, he is the first Fresno County law enforcement officer to die of COVID complications.
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