Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: West Hollywood Hustle

First Solid Break

Rodriguez was in prison in Walla Walla, Washington, so a team of LAPD detectives traveled there to question him. At the very least, they had him on being in a murder victim's car, and they would use that fact for all it was worth.

Actor portrays Juan Chavez.
Actor portrays Juan Chavez.

Rodriguez readily admitted that he had driven the car to Utah, explaining that when it gave out, he'd abandoned it. He said he'd purchased it for very little money from a man named Job Rocha, who also went by Juan Chavez. Detectives showed him the ATM photos taken of the man using Bayis' card. Rodriguez identified both Juan Chavez and his brother, Cruz.

Actor portrays Cruz Chavez.
Actor portrays Cruz Chavez.

When he learned that the car had been stolen from a murder victim, Rodriquez denied any involvement in the crime. He had simply purchased a car, he claimed, and since there was no evidence that he had been in the Randolph home, there was little police could do just then but accept his story. In any event, he wasn't going anywhere. Their goal at that point, now that they had names, was to find the brothers. Believing at first that these two might be involved in a criminal enterprise together, the detectives were in for another surprise. They located Cruz Chavez first.

He lived in a neighborhood near where some of the stolen cars had been parked, but he proved to be a regular family man with a responsible job. When shown the ATM photos, he freely admitted he was one of the men and his brother was the other, but he explained that he believed he'd used the card legitimately. His brother had told him that someone owed him money and had sent him to the ATM to get it. Juan had asked Cruz for assistance in using the card, so he'd helped out.

Cruz told detectives about the difficult lives he and Juan had had ever since they were children. Their parents had abandoned them, so their grandmother had taken them in, but that was little better. She beat them regularly and fiercely, so when they could they crossed the border into Texas and lived on the streets. They then made their way to Los Angeles, where Cruz became a law-abiding citizen, while Juan got into drugs and lived hand to mouth.

When asked where Juan was, Cruz told detectives that he was in Folsom Prison, serving time on a kidnapping charge. That made it easy to find him. It was also interesting to note that Juan had been arrested close to the date when the murders, along with the use of Bayis' ATM card, had suddenly ceased,

However, for all they knew, Cruz was lying to protect himself and his family, so they prepared to interrogate Juan. If he had the same story, the Cruz was off the hook.

Watch this story and many others from the case files of the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, which solves crimes using cutting edge forensics. Only on Court TV. Learn more.


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