Cops: Brutal Hatchet Attack Could Be Mistaken Identity

A brutal attack with a hatchet on a man and woman inside an Escondido home could be a case of mistaken identity, police said.

“It's a horrific crime. In fact our officers are saying it's one of the most brutal that they've seen," Lt. Bob Benton said.

A hatchet-wielding man somehow got inside a home on the 800 block of Upas Street around 1:15 a.m. and attacked two people, who were in bed at the time, according to Benton. Police say the man struck the boyfriend several times in the neck and torso with a hatchet and wounded the 21-year-old woman in the leg.

Four or five other people were inside the home during the attack, including the suspect’s estranged wife and their 7-year-old daughter, according to police. One of those people called police.

An officer spotted Gamalier Reyes Rivera, 32, a Border Patrol employee, covered in blood standing near a 711 on 9th Street and Pine Ave. Rivera, who was also injured, did not resist arrest and was taken to Palomar Medical Center.

Both victims were also taken to Palomar Medical Center. The man was listed in critical condition and the woman was treated and released.

The victims told police they did not know their attacker. Rivera’s estranged wife, Erika Von Der Heyde ,33,  is one of several roommates that live inside the home. The motive for the attack was not known and police booked him on two counts of attempted murder.

Border Patrol spokesman Richard Smith confirmed Rivera works for the agency, but would not specify his role.

Late Thursday afternoon,  detectives served searched warrants at Rivera's Imperial Beach apartment and his 2000 Suzuki Vitari.  Inside his SUV, they found Border Patrol equipment including zip ties and gun clips filled with ammunition for a handgun.

Neighbors said Rivera had been living at the apartment with Von Der Heyde and their daughter until a few weeks ago when she and the girl moved out.

"He never seemed happy, he never smiled,"said a neighbor who only wanted to be identified as Josh.

Von Der Heyde was also at Rivera's apartment as investigators searched for more evidence.  She declined comment when approached by an NBC 7/39 reporter.

Contact Us