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Suspects still at large as officials focus on recent homicides

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Register Staff Writer

Murder isn't common in Napa, yet the recent killings of Adriane Insogna, Leslie Mazzara and Leonicio Pimienta serve as reminders that Napa County isn't impervious to deadly crimes.

Between 1993 and 2002, there were 19 homicides throughout the county, according to the Department of Justice. During that same period, there were 209 in Solano County, 73 in Yolo County, 145 in Sonoma County and 39 in Lake County. In 2003, there was one murder reported and so far this year there have been three.

While Napa prosecutors wait for police to nab the killers of Insogna, Mazzara and Pimienta, they are busy handling other murder cases.

On trial

Anthony Gore, a 39-year-old former Napa State Hospital resident, as well as 39-year-old Eddie Hernandez and Linda Lorraine Hernandez, 40, are on trial for murder in Napa County.

Prosecutors accuse Gore of killing 49-year-old Dennis Wagner, his roommate, on May 3, 2002. According to Register reports, a fellow hospital patient found Wagner deceased in his bed around 8 a.m. Hospital police were called to the scene and found Gore lying on his back in his bed with blood on his hand.

At a preliminary hearing, Dr. Brian Peterson, who performed an autopsy on Wagner, testified that Wagner suffered injuries to his head and neck that were caused by blunt force trauma. Additionally, Peterson told the court that Wagner was struck at least three times, according to Register reports.

A ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity in a separate case landed Gore at the hospital in January 2000. Wagner had been at the hospital since 1998. Bob Greggins, assistant district attorney, said a judge granted a continuance in Gore's trial until Nov. 30, to allow time for a psychiatrist to evaluate the defendant.

"No cases are cut and dry," he said, "(but) I believe there is sufficient evidence to convict him."

Eddie and Linda Hernandez are accused of killing their developmentally-disabled nephew, 4-year-old Ronald James Gray, in 1998. Paramedics were called to the Hernandez home on Glenwood Drive, according to Register reports, to help a child suffering from seizures. Gray was taken to Queen of the Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Hospital staff found bruises, abrasions and lacerations on the boy and an autopsy report revealed methamphetamine in his system.

In late 1998, police filed a complaint against the couple, asking the district attorney to file murder charges. The district attorney filed murder charges in 2003, several years after the alleged murder, because of the complexity of the investigation, according to reports.

A preliminary trial is scheduled for Dec. 17, Greggins said.

At large

Three people are wanted in connection with Napa County murders.

Nicolas Villalobos-Olivera, 31, is charged with the July 22 murder of Leonicio Pimienta. Police say Villalobos-Olivera shot Pimienta, 50, seven times with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun at the corner of Pope and Edwards streets in St. Helena around 3 p.m. that day. A massive manhunt ensued, but the killer got away. Weeks of investigations led police to Villalobos-Olivera, whose mother had dated Pimienta at one time. Also, the suspect once lived with the couple.

"It's still an active case," St. Helena Police Chief Robert Wedell said. "Our agency follows up on the leads that we get. He is definitely on the move."

Wedell said investigator Jane Hinshaw is actively working the case along with Napa County's Major Crime Investigations Team. Also, police say that Villalobos-Olivera left the county, but they aren't sure if he returned to his native Mexico. Villalobos-Olivera worked in a janitorial position while in St. Helena, Wedell said, and he may be currently working as a manual laborer.

Juan Jose Hernandez-Mendoza is wanted for the Aug. 4, 2003 murder of Manuel Reyes, a 58-year-old security guard at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville. According to reports, Reyes offered Hernandez a ride in a Veterans Home security car. About an hour later, Reyes was found along Dry Creek Road with multiple stab wounds, not far from where the car crashed into a tree. Sheriff's deputies say Hernandez-Mendoza may have fled to Mexico.

Napa Police investigators say Marco Antonio Camacho has also fled to Mexico. He is wanted for the Sept. 17, 1998 murder of Roberto Carlos Torres-Victorio, 23. The two were at a quinceañera at the Napa Valley Expo's Chardonnay Hall. Police say Camacho, a participant at the party that celebrates a girl's coming of age, gunned Torres-Victorio down after they got into an argument.

"We have a murder warrant in the system and we've got an America's Most Wanted episode on this individual," Napa Police Cmdr. Andy Lewis said. "Camacho is a known gang member, but his victim doesn't have any ties or gang affiliation."

Greggins said the district attorney's office has not submitted an extradition request for Hernandez-Mendoza or Camacho.

"The reason for that is the whole law is changing on the first of January," he said. "They won't be in double jeopardy after the first."

Currently, the U.S. honors all court rulings in Mexico. The Mexican government has recognized that life in prison and the death penalty are cruel and unusual punishments. If a person who committed a crime in the U.S. is caught and tried in Mexico, the maximum sentence they can receive is 15 years in prison. Under current law, the convicted felon cannot be prosecuted again in the U.S.

The new law will grant U.S. attorneys the power to re-prosecute criminals who re-enter the United States, even if they are acquitted of the crimes by Mexican courts.


On Sept. 12, 1997, Edwin Njuguna, 24, drove down the 2500 block of Marin Street and stopped in front of a home where a party was underway. The party spilled out onto the street and he was confronted by three men. Moments later a melee broke out in which Njuguna, Ryan Perez, and Samir Abdalla faced off against four or more hostile partygoers. When police arrived they found Njuguna dying from stab wounds.

While searching the home where the party took place, officers found a cache of weapons which included 31 knives, a machete, two bayonets, two shotguns, four rifles, as well as drug paraphernalia, according to Register reports. No murder weapon was found.

Police interviewed dozens of witnesses and conducted an investigation, but were unable to figure out who stabbed Njuguna. Although assailants told police they attacked the three men, no one would admit to stabbing Njuguna. Even though there were dozens of people on Marin Street the night of the murder, no one has come forward to say they witnessed the stabbing.

"It's an active and open case," Lewis said. "We remain in contact with the family."

On Nov. 1 a man entered the Dorset Street home of Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna, both 26, through an unlocked door or window, and stabbed the two housemates to death. The killer targeted the victims, police said, and was injured during the struggle. Police scoured the crime scene for clues and went as far as enlisting the help of the FBI to assist them with processing forensic evidence collected inside the home.

To date, police haven't announced a primary suspect, but say that forensic evidence collected at the crime scene will assist them in narrowing their list of possible suspects.


Wanted by Police

Nicolas Villalobos-Olivera

Alias: Nick Ceja
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Weight: 160 pounds
Age: 31
Sex: male
Eyes: brown
Hair: black
Complexion: light brown
Race: Hispanic
Birthdate: 04/10/73

Villalobos-Olivera is wanted in the murder of Leonicio Pimienta, 50. He has family in Redwood City and Belmont. The suspect may have cashed his final pay checks at local businesses in Menlo Park's Middlefield Road area. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact investigator Jane Hinshaw at 967-2850.

Marco Antonio Camacho

Height: 6 foot
Weight: 160 pounds
Age: 24
Sex: male
Eyes: brown
Hair: black (could be shaved off)
Complexion: medium
Race: Hispanic
Birthdate: September 1980

Camacho is wanted for the murder of Roberto Carlos Torres-Victorio. He is a known gang member and has a tattoo of an "X" on his right ear lobe and a "3" on his left. He may also have a tattoo with the name "Camacho" on his back. Anyone with information regarding Camacho is asked to contact police at 253-4451.

Juan Jose Hernandez-Mendoza

Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Weight: 140 pounds
Age: 25
Sex: male
Eyes: black
Hair: black
Race: Hispanic
Birthdate: 04/16/1979

Hernandez is wanted in connection with the murder of Manuel Reyes, 58. Authorities say he has a large mole on his left cheek and three warts on his right forearm. He has family in the Stockton/Linden area. Anyone with information about Hernandez-Mendoza is asked to contact sheriff's deputies at 877-426-4847, 253-4509 or 253-4451.



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