San Diego

Arrest Warrant Issued for Stepson After Woman Found Buried in Tijuana Backyard

The Attorney General of the State of Baja California confirmed the suspect is Aaron Juarez, 20.

An arrest warrant has been issued by Mexican authorities in the death of a woman found buried in the backyard of her Tijuana home. 

The Attorney General of the State of Baja California confirmed the suspect is Aaron Juarez, 20, the stepson of the victim. He has not yet been arrested. 

Fernanda Gonzalez, 32, who grew up in Tijuana and San Diego, was found buried in her backyard last Sunday by her sister and father after the family received tips on social media regarding her whereabouts.

The Medical Examiner's Office said she died from a gunshot wound to the head. 

The Gonzalez family suspected Juarez in the killing. Fernanda Gonzalez had known him 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.

However, until the arrest warrant was issued Monday, Juarez was not considered a suspect in the case.

"We are in a way happy because now we know the case [has legs]," the victim's sister, Erika Gonzalez, told NBC 7's sister station Telemundo 20 in Spanish. "We’re happy to know my sister will be able to have justice because it’s clear what happened here."

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.

"It hurts a lot to know that someone like that, so dangerous, can be out on bail. If he had still been detained, my sister might still be alive," Erika Gonzalez said.
NBC 7's Dave Summers has the exclusive story.

Jesus Rodolfo Cruz, an attorney for the Gonzalez family, told Telemundo 20 that Juarez had allegedly been using drugs and firearms while living with Gonzalez, and socializing with the wrong crowd.

Fernanda Gonzalez was first reported missing one month ago by 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. 

PGJE
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.

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

She said she lost contact with her sister on Feb. 3 and reported the disappearance two days later.

That same day, 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. 

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

After three weeks of no leads from investigators, Erika Gonzalez took to social media to offer a reward for information leading to her discovery. The family is still offering a reward of 10,000 Mexican pesos for information that leads to Fernanda Gonzalez's Jeep Cherokee. 

"We received calls from different people saying she was in the back of her house,” Erika said.
The tips indicated Fernanda was dead and that she was buried in the back yard of her Tijuana home. Some of the tips even said who killed her.

"We received calls from different people saying she was in the back of her house," Erika Gonzalez said.

The tips indicated Fernanda Gonzalez was dead and that she was buried in the backyard of her Tijuana home. Some of the tips even said who killed her.

The police did not search the property right away, so the family conducted a search of their own and found Fernanda Gonzalez's body buried right where tipsters said to look.

"It was hard but it was harder for my dad,” Erika Gonzalez said. “He started yelling."

On Tuesday, the Deputy Attorney General of Justice in Tijuana released a photo of Juarez and said investigators are still searching for him. Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call authorities.

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