Arrest made in 10-year-old Fresno cold murder case

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The suspect in a Central Fresno murder was tracked in the one place he couldn't hide, a prison cell. Fresno police say 45-year-old Joseph Preston Shepherd confessed to the murder of 40-year-old Andrew Alvarez.

Relatives of Alvarez tell Action News he loved to travel. He grew up in Fresno and spent time living in the Bay Area and Denver before returning home to the Central Valley.

Alvarez was murdered several days before investigators in June 2005 were called to his Central Fresno apartment. Neighbors had called 911 to complain about a strange smell coming from inside.

Officers soon discovered his decomposing body. A break in the case wouldn't come for about nine years.

"We got a hit about a year ago, at that time our Detective Bart Ledbetter, who is assigned to the street violence section, got the case and started putting it together," said Fresno Police Lt. Mark Salazar. "He developed the information and then went to the prison to interview Preston Shepherd."

The hit was DNA evidence from the Department of Justice connected Shepherd to the murder. It's unclear right now why it took years to make that connection. But investigators found Shepherd in a Kern County prison for a serious domestic violence conviction.

"During that time he had two interviews with him over this past summer," Lt. Salazar said. "They went well, in fact, in the second interview he confessed to the murder."

Salazar says the victim and murder suspect met days before the killing. Shepherd stayed with Alvarez in his apartment. Apparently Alvarez made sexual advances toward Shepherd, and that's what led to an argument and then the stabbing. Police say Shepherd already had a criminal past before he met Alvarez.

"Assaults, domestic violence," Salazar said. "I think there was one robbery in there. So he was no angel."

Shepherd will appear in court next week, according to the Alvarez family.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.