Solved Cold Cases
OPD Case 81-20528 - The murder of Lisa Gondek
In December 1981, 21-year old Lisa Gondek's body was discovered by firefighters who had responded to a fire at an apartment in the 1200 block of West Gonzales Road. Gondek's murder is connected to the 1981 murder of Rachael Zendejas, in Camarillo. Gondek had recently relocated to Oxnard from Connecticut. She worked in Oxnard and had many friends.
In February 2023, after more than 41 years, Tony Garcia, an Oxnard resident, was arrested for both Lisa's and Rachael's murders. Genetic genealogy was one of several investigative techniques used to identify Garcia as the suspect. Garcia is in custody for these murders and is pending the court process.
OPD Case 80-22541 - The murder of Sarah Leah Bullis
In 1980, 81-year old Leah Bullis was raped and killed in her home. In 2018, Oxnard police detectives and the Ventura County Cold Case Task Force identified Lenard Len Chester as the suspect in these crimes. The use of DNA analysis assisted in this investigation. Investigators located critical witnesses in this case. Chester was arrested in May 2019. On June 19, 2020, Lenard Chester was found guilty of the first degree murder of Leah Bullis. The jury also found true two special circumstances; that the murder was committed during a rape and a burglary. Chester was sentenced to Life without Parole.
OPD Case 02-27221
In 2002, 24-year old Steven Lemos was shot and killed inside his apartment in the 1900 block of North H Street. A witness described the gunman as a young Black male. At the time detectives attempted to identify the male, with no success. Over the years, on the anniversary of Lemos' murder, press releases were sent out urging the public to come forward with any information on this case. In 2014, after one such press release, detectives received an anonymous tip that the suspect was Theodore Taylor. The tipster felt that the Lemos family needed to know what happened to Steven. Detectives followed-up on this tip and learned information about Taylor that was consistent with him being involved in the murder. Detectives also learned that Taylor was deceased. Taylor was positively identified by a witness to the murder as being the shooter.
OPD Case 83-3588
In 1983, 26-year old Yolanda Castro was dropped off at St. John's Hospital in Oxnard. Castro was unconscious and had a single stab wound to the chest. Detectives identified the suspect as Manuel Castanon Reyes. Reyes was Castro's boyfriend at the time. Witnesses saw Reyes strike Castro in the chest. Another witness saw Reyes transporting Castro's unconscious body in his vehicle. Detectives issued a warrant for Reyes' arrest. This warrant was never served because Reyes fled the United States and went to Mexico. In March 2019, Detectives began to follow-up on this arrest warrant, with the intent of finding Reyes. Detectives determined that Reyes had been murdered in Zacatecas, Mexico in 1995.
OPD Case 80-14343
In 1980, 15-year old Stacy Knappenberger was raped and killed in her home. In 2012, Oxnard police detectives and the Ventura County Cold Case Task Force identified Thomas Young for these crimes. The use of DNA analysis assisted in this investigation. Young was arrested at his home in Alabama. Young has since been convicted of all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
OPD Case 82-07899
In 1982, Donald Robertson was killed in the 1300 block of Commercial Avenue during an alcohol fueled argument. In 2013 Oxnard police detectives conclusively determined that Ernest Berryman was responsible for this murder. Unfortunately, Berryman was found to be deceased.
OPD Case 05-30337
In 2005, Joaquin Castaneda was found shot to death in the 900 block of Richmond Avenue. In 2016, Oxnard police detectives gathered sufficient evidence to arrest Isaac Sinsun for Castaneda's murder. Sinsun was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
OPD Case 82-02954
In 1982, a female victim was kidnapped, robbed, and raped. DNA analysis was used to identify Delton Taylor as the suspect in this case. An arrest warrant was issued for Taylor and he was arrested in Bakersfield. In 2015, Taylor was convicted of kidnapping with intent to commit robbery. The rape charge could not be prosecuted due to statute of limitations. Taylor was sentenced to 7 years to life in prison.
OPD Case 85-18012
In 1985, Isabel Hernandez was found stabbed to death in an apartment in the 900 block of West Gonzales Road. Hernandez worked at a credit card company and was active in her church. Hernandez was staying at her boyfriend's Oxnard apartment for the weekend when she was killed. Her boyfriend was at a Bruce Springsteen concert in Los Angeles and his roommate was out of town, so she was alone in the apartment. Her boyfriend came home about 1:15 a.m. on Sept. 28, 1985, and found her dead from multiple stab wounds. In 2016, DNA was instrumental in identifying Vincent Mackey as being responsible for Hernandez' murder. Mackey was already in prison serving a life sentence for murder. Ultimately, Mackey pled no contest to the charge of Hernandez' murder. Mackey was ultimately sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
OPD Case 03-15832
In 2003, Brian Brown was shot and killed in the 4200 block of Terrace Avenue. In 2015, Oxnard police detectives gathered enough evidence to charge David Acosta with Brown's murder. Acosta was serving a prison sentence when he was arrested. Acosta pled guilty to manslaughter with a firearm. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
OPD Cold Case 79-10172
In 1979, Ruben Martinez was shot and killed while seated in a parked car in the 100 block of North Rose Avenue. In 2017, Oxnard police detectives re-interviewed several eyewitnesses in this case. Detectives were able to conclusively prove that Robert Amaro was responsible for this murder. Amaro was found to be deceased.
OPD Case 96-18337
In 1996, Manual Amaro was found shot to death in the 1500 block of Morris Street. In 2013, Oxnard police detectives obtained sufficient evidence to prove that Ralph Lopez was responsible for Amaro's death. Investigators learned that Lopez was murdered in 2003.
OPD Case 79-13967
In 1979, Ladislado Gonzales was shot and killed in the 2000 block of San Jacinto Street. In 2013, Oxnard police detectives re-interviewed several eyewitnesses in this case. Detectives were able to conclusively prove that Robert Amaro was responsible for this murder. Amaro was found to be deceased. This was the second murder associated with Amaro in 1979.