San Diego

Stepson in Custody After Woman Found Buried in Tijuana Backyard

A man wanted by Mexican authorities in connection with the killing of his stepmother in Tijuana was arrested on unrelated charges Thursday in Chula Vista.

Aaron Seth Juarez, 20, was arrested and booked on suspicion of possession of a firearm and violation of probation, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department website.

Juarez was named as a suspect in the killing of his stepmother Fernanda Gonzalez, 32, by the Attorney General of the State of Baja California earlier this week. Fernanda Gonzalez was found buried in the backyard of her Tijuana home on Feb. 24. The Medical Examiner's Office said she died from a gunshot wound to the head.

The Gonzalez family’s attorney, Jesus Rodolfo Cruz, told NBC 7 that extradition documents are still being processed and there is no warrant for Juarez’s arrest on murder charges in the U.S.

Rodolfo Cruz said Juarez has a hearing scheduled on March 11. If the extradition documents don’t come through by then, Juarez could post $25,000 bail and be free to walk the streets.

Cruz and the Gonzalez family plan to convince the judge at the hearing to hold Juarez without bail because the pending charges in Mexico make him a flight risk.

Fernanda Gonzalez was first reported missing one month ago by her sister Erika Gonzalez, who is from San Diego's South Bay. Erika Gonzalez said she knew something was wrong when she could not get in contact with her sister.

"We were calling her phone and she didn't answer,” Erika Gonzalez said.

The Gonzalez family posted a reward for information leading to Fernanda’s location on social media and received several tips that led them to the backyard of her home.

On the day Erika reported her sister missing, Fernanda Gonzalez's husband showed up at UC San Diego Medical Center with an unexplained gunshot wound. He is a U.S. citizen who works in San Diego.

Aaron Juarez is suspected in the killing of his stepmother, Fernanda Gonzalez. Gonzalez was found buried in the backyard of her own home in Tijuana, Mexico.

After Juarez was named as a suspect by Mexican authorities, the family again posted a reward online for information leading to Juarez's location. They hoped that if he was hiding out in Mexico they could forward tips on his location to police and aid in his arrest, but they began receiving tips including pictures of Juarez in Chula Vista and San Ysidro. One picture even showed him getting his hair cut.

Fernanda Gonzalez had known Juarez since he was four years old. Juarez had been living with Fernanda Gonzalez and her husband at her Tijuana home for the past two months -- the same home where her body was discovered.

San Diego County court documents show Juarez has a criminal history. He was charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon and resisting an officer for an incident in November 2018. He was also charged with transportation and sale of marijuana.

NBC 7's Dave Summers has the exclusive story.

Fernanda Gonzalez grew up in San Diego and lived with her husband in Tijuana.

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