A suspect, who allegedly murdered the mother of his son as the boy watched helplessly, killed himself, according to investigators.
For more than 12 hours on Friday, law enforcement officers searched for Krisanto Jopanda, 33, all over the County. At about 7 p.m. Friday night, they found his Nissan Altima parked at Presidio Park. The car was located after the Lo jack system was turned on, allowing authorities to pinpoint its location.
Jopanda's body was found hanging from a tree in a nearby canyon. Officers said he had tried to kill himself with shoelaces, but it didn't work so he shot himself.
Sheriff's homicide investigators say Jopanda killed the mother of his 10-year-old son, Avitha Rafael, 28, at her Spring Valley home earlier that morning. They believe she was stabbed to death and that the boy, who called 911, witnessed at least part of the stabbing.
“Well, I heard a car taking off real fast and I could hear the tires burning,” said neighbor Jody Rich. “Like someone in a great, great, big hurry.”
Deputies were called to the home on Celestial Waters Dr. at about 7 a.m. Friday.
“They ran up to the driveway and they found the female in the driveway,” Lt. Dennis Brugos said. “Next to her was a boy, we believe about 10 years of age.”
Investigators believe Rafael was a secretary at the San Diego City Attorney's Office. Law enforcement sources also told NBCSanDiego that the woman had family ties to San Diego Police.
Homicide detectives said Rafael had recently filed a restraining order against Jopanda. Relatives are now caring for the 10-year-old boy.
“I think he's unharmed physically from what I understand, but he's very upset,” said Lt. Brugos.
A neighbor says he would often see the boy playing football outside his Spring Valley home.
“It was a really nice family. It's just surprising this would happen here,” said a neighbor who only wants to be known as ‘Tad.’
For hours, detectives collected evidence and interviewed neighbors in the area.
“My heart goes out to the family,” said Rich. “You try to put yourself in their place and you could never know what if feels like.