SEASON 1

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EXCLUSIVE

DEPUTIES
AMBUSHED

We speak with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Claudia Apolinar. In September of 2020, Apolinar and her partner were shot point blank range as they sat in their patrol SUV at a Metro station in Compton. While they were rushed to a hospital, the department’s homicide bureau immediately began working to find the shooter. It was one of the largest manhunts in the department’s history. We’ll talk about the investigation, and for the first time ever, deputy Apolinar speaks publicly about the shooting and about her road to recovery.

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Photographed: Oswaldo Borraez (KMEX), Claudia Apolinar, and Steve Greg0ry

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THE BLACK DAHLIA

On the morning of January 15th, 1947 at approximately 10 AM – the remains of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short a.k.a “The Black Dahlia” were discovered by Betty Bersinger on a morning walk on the block of 3800 S. Norton Avenue in Los Angeles.

Short’s body was cut in half, split at the waist. The body was so pale that Bersinger believed it was a mannequin. She quickly realized it was indeed a body and ran to contact police.

There was no blood at the scene, an implication she was moved to this location after the murder.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was able to identify Short by her fingerprints. She had several marks on her body that suggested that she had been bound and tortured.

A few days later on January 24th, 1947, a suspicious envelope that was addressed to the Los Angeles Examiner as well as other Los Angeles publications was discovered.

The envelope contained a letter that spelled out, “Here is Dahlia’s belongings” – written out using cut-out words from other newspapers.

The envelope also contained Short’s birth certificate, photographs, business cards, names written on a piece of paper, and an address book. All of the contents had been cleaned using gasoline to remove fingerprints, similar to how Short’s body had been cleaned.

Due to how Short had been found, investigators believed the suspect to be a person involved in the medical field. She had been mutilated with such precision and her body was cleaned using gasoline, something most would not know.

75 years later – this case remains unsolved.

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PHOTO'S COURTESY OF : FBI

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THE MURDER OF MARK LEONARD

On January 18th, 2008 – Mark Leonard was shot multiple times while standing in the parking lot of the car wash he owned, Leonard died on scene.  

Approximately three hours prior to the murder, a frequent client of his, only known as “Happy” had engaged in a heated argument with Leonard. The argument almost escalated into fight, but was stopped by Leonard’s pregnant wife, Jacquelyne. After the argument, “Happy” left the car wash in a black Chevrolet Tahoe with two men.

Following the argument, Mark drove to the City of Long Beach to buy supplies for his business. It was said that during the time employees saw the same black Chevrolet Tahoe circle the business, but never stopped. Leonard returned approximately three hours later.

Leonard was finishing his errands as he was planning on seeing his son Kawhi play in his high school CIF Championship game. Kawhi would become an NBA Superstar, years following his father’s murder.

Shortly after Leonard returned to his business, the same black Chevrolet Tahoe returned and parked across the street. A second vehicle, a beige Cadillac Escalade, that “Happy” was known to own, parked in the same location, next to the Tahoe.

A few moments later, two masked men exited the Tahoe, spoke to the driver of the beige Cadillac, crossed Wilmington Avenue and murdered Mark Leonard.

Following the shooting, the two masked men returned to the Chevrolet Tahoe and both vehicles drove away.

During the investigation into Leonard’s murder, it was determined that Leonard was a long time drug dealer – regularly purchasing drugs from a network of male Hispanic’s that “Happy” was involved with. The investigation also noted the argument between Leonard and “Happy” was an attempt to mediate a dispute between another narcotics dealer and a refusal to pay that dealer’s debt.

Detectives say “Happy’ definitely had a motive to kill Leonard.

In 2008, “Happy” was never identified and the case went cold. In 2019, LA County Sheriff’s Detectives McCarthy and Tomlin re-opened the case.

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THE MURDERS OF DALELAJA HEARN & ERIN LAVENDER

On the night of December 15th, 2019 - Hearn and Lavender were sitting in Lavender's car when they were both shot to death while they were both paying respects to the family of a young man who passed away due to an overdose. As they sat in their car, two individuals approached the car on foot and started firing several shots.

 

Lavender was seated in the driver's seat and Hearn sat in the front passenger seat. Both were hit several times. Three friends who were seated in the back seats of the car did not get hit by the gunfire. One of the friends pulled Lavender to the backseat and drove to a local hospital - where Hearn and Lavender were pronounced dead.

The suspects fled south on Alvo Avenue and then west on Del Amo Boulevard - both are still at large.

Steve spoke to Lieutenant Steve Blagg with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department about the murders.

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THE MURDER OF ANGEL MARTINEZ

Angel Matinez - the owner of the Arrow Wood Apartments in Fontana. On June 8th, 1988, just before 6 a.m., Martinez picked up the property manager who handed him a bundle of money – rent money collected from tenants. By 8 p.m. that night, Martinez’s wife reported him missing.

On June 17th, Martinez’s car was found at the parking lot of a bowling alley in Duarte. Three days later on June 20th, Martinez’s body was found buried in a shallow grave in the desert in La Paz County, Arizona.

Investigators say they think the murder was an inside job, but who was the mastermind and who were the accomplices? Steve spoke to Katherine Clark with the Fontana Police Department about this case.

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Steve delves into the murder of Jason Cortez - On September 10th, 2021, officers responded to Debs Park where Jason was walking and was shot dead. The murder was last seen going northbound through Debs Park.

Months later, the murderer is still at large and there is a $50,000 reward leading to his arrest and conviction.

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LASD EXPLORER

THE MURDER OF 19-YEAR-OLD CESAR RODRIGUEZ

19-year-old Cesar Rodriguez was described by supervisors with the Sheriff's Department as selfless, eager, polite, and respectful - a teenager who had a lifelong dream of becoming a sheriff's deputy. Rodriguez was an Explorer Scout and just a week prior to his murder had submitted his application to join the Sheriff's Department.

 

On August 28th, 2011 at approximately 3:10 AM, a driver of a passing car opened fire on Rodriguez and his friends murdering Rodriguez and his friend Larry Villegas in the city of Whittier.

24-year-old Larry Villegas worked as a mechanic and was expecting his second child.

 

Rodriguez and Villegas were pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Detectives believe Rodriguez and Villegas were not the targets of the shooting and may have been mistaken for gang members by the shooter. Detectives say neither had gang ties. 

11 years later - no arrest has been made and the murderer remains at large. There is a $25,000 reward for the capture and arrest of the killer.  

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EPISODE 105
"THE MURDER OF MINERVA GONZALEZ", "THE MURDER OF DIEGO REZA", & UPDATE ON EL MENCHO

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"The Teardrop Rapist" 

EPISODE 104

"THE MURDER OF MINERVA GONZALEZ"

"THE MURDER OF MINERVA GONZALEZ"

"THE MURDER OF MINERVA GONZALEZ"

"THE MURDER OF MINERVA GONZALEZ"

In 2010, Minerva Gonzalez walked her kids to school as usual. But, by the time her kids got home from school, Gonzalez had been beaten beyond recognition. Gonzalez’ home had been broken into twice before and Fontana Police say there had been a rash of ‘panty thefts’ from homes in the area.

"THE MURDER OF DIEGO REZA"

"Unsolved with Steve Gregory" also explores the tragic death of Diego Reza, an 18-year-old who was shot and killed while driving home from a 4th of July Party – it’s a case from the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

"EL MENCHO" UPDATE

After our episode on "El Mencho" aired - we learned that the DEA had a spike in calls in regards to this case. Steve spoked to Special Agent Kyle Mori about developments in the case. 

EPISODE 104

"The Teardrop Rapist"

"MAN IN A BOX"

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"THE TEARDROP RAPIST"

Since February 1996, this notorious rapist has been loose in the streets of Los Angeles. Detectives have identified 39 similar incidents of sexual assault between February 1996 and his most recent attack in 2013. 

The assaults have been linked by DNA evidence, but the LAPD wasn't able to identify the suspect. 

All of the crimes took place in the early morning hours between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. He would typically walk up to each victim and strike up a conversation before pulling a knife or firearm. He would then walk to a secluded area and sexually assault his victims. 

The victims have ranged in age from 14 to 41 years of age. 

He is described as a male Hispanic between 40 to 65 years of age (now). He stands between 5'2 to 5'6 and weighs between 130 and 170 pounds. Suspect is described to have a light complexion with a possible teardrop tattoo or scar below his eye. He also had a mustache during some of the assaults. 

 

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EPISODE 103

"Man in a Box"

"The Murder of Christopher Perez"

 
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"MAN IN A BOX"

July 7th, 2008 - A man who managed some property in Devore called 911 after he noticed human remains in a metal box which was buried along a dirt road near the foothills. The man told investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department that he kept driving over an object in the road for weeks and finally one day he stopped, dug around the object and noticed it was a metal box. The man said he poked holes in the box and found a skeleton.


The San Bernardino County Coroner’s office determined on scene the human remains were male. Eventually, the skull was sent to a forensic anthropologist who was able to get a clay rendering of what they believed would best represent what the man looked like. They were able to eventually put a name to the face.


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THE MURDER OF CHRISTOPHER PEREZ

On December 11th of 2020, at around 11:20 PM, 23-year-old Chris Perez was found shot to death near a restroom at Bassett Park in La Puente.

 

Detectives initially thought the shooting was tied to some sort of robbery, but now think there could be something more. Detectives say they have very little to go on, but they also say they know someone out there knows what happened, including the killer.

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"MAN IN A BOX"

July 7th, 2008 - A man who managed some property in Devore called 911 after he noticed human remains in a metal box which was buried along a dirt road near the foothills. The man told investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department that he kept driving over an object in the road for weeks and finally one day he stopped, dug around the object and noticed it was a metal box. The man said he poked holes in the box and found a skeleton.


The San Bernardino County Coroner’s office determined on scene the human remains were male. Eventually, the skull was sent to a forensic anthropologist who was able to get a clay rendering of what they believed would best represent what the man looked like. They were able to eventually put a name to the face.


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EPISODE 102

"El Mencho"

"The Disappearance of Scott Echols"

 
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NEMESIO OSEGUERA CERVANTES,
AKA "EL MENCHO"
NCIC # W17884901

Nemesio Osegura-Cervantes, also known as, “El Mencho” was born on July 17th, 1966 (55 years old) in Michoacán, Mexico.  He is currently the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC).

“El Mencho” has been indicted in the United States federal court on charges of drug trafficking, murder, and corruption.  His cartel is responsible for approximately 1/3 of the drugs that are entering the United States by land and sea. JNGC has a large footprint in Los Angeles as many of the drugs that are on Los Angeles’ Skid Row are said to be coming from the cartel.

Cervantes lived in California over 30 years ago but was arrested in the 1980s for selling drugs. He was later deported back to Mexico. He then began working for the Milenio cartel and climbed up the ranks quickly.

He currently has a $10,000,000 reward attached to his name.

“El Mencho” protects his empire with impunity and his cartel makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year from all of the drugs they are producing.

It is said that he has entire police departments on his payroll, protecting him.

“El Mencho” has done a very good job at eluding U.S. federal authorities.

His son, Ruben Osegura Gonzalez was arrested in 2015 – currently being held in a maximum security prison in Mexico.

Authorities across the United States are actively searching for Cervantes.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SCOTT ECHOLS

CASE # 01-92-03870, HENRY # 119-92

On July 25th, 1992, Scott Echols was eight-years-old.  He lived with his parents and siblings in Muscoy, CA – a small town in San Bernardino County.
At approximately 10 pm on July 25th, 1992 - Scott was asleep on the couch in his living room as his parents and siblings slept in the bedroom. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and that was the last anyone ever heard from or about Scott.
The next morning, his family woke up and saw that his shoes were next to the couch… but there was no Scott.
Scott was known to frequent the wash near his house and to hangout with the homeless in the area. Scott was also known to panhandle around his town. Since he was known to disappear for some time, Scott’s family did not report him missing until July 27th, 1992. About two days since they last saw him.
Now 29 years later, Scott remains missing – there are more questions than answers. Investigators are still working diligently searching for answers to the question, “What happened to Scott?”

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EPISODE 101

"Father and Son Time"

 
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CASE # 014-80024-0284-011
JESSE AVALOS

February 11, 2014

On Monday, February 10, 2014, at approximately 10:50 p.m., Victim Jesse Avalos received a phone call from an acquaintance requesting a jumpstart to his vehicle near the intersection of Telegraph Road and Arizona Avenue in East Los Angeles. Victim Avalos provided the jumpstart approximately 15 minutes later. A few hours later, East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station received a phone call at 3:25 a.m. of an injured person at the 4800 block of Telegraph Road in East Los Angeles. There, deputies found Victim Avalos on the driver’s seat of his blue SUV.  He had sustained numerous gunshot wounds. The hood of his SUV was found open and two suspects were seen around the vehicle.

CASE #015-09332-0283-011
EDUARDO ROBLES

July 6, 2015

On Monday, July 6, 2015, victim Eduardo Robles was involved in a physical altercation on the driveway of a residence on the 4300 block of Eagle Street in East Los Angeles. Victim Robles was visiting, and approximately 15 people were present when the incident occurred. After the fight, the suspect jumped over a wrought iron fence to the street, walked to Victim Robles’ vehicle and punctured the four tires with a sharp object and fled the location. The same suspect returned to the location five minutes later and shot Victim Robles several times in the upper torso. The suspect was picked up by a Hispanic male in his mid to late forties, five feet eight to five feet nine inches tall, heavy set build, in a light green colored vehicle.

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Case #018-6106-0282-011
Amanda "Nikki" Lopez

On Sunday, April 22, 2018, at approximately 2:40 a.m., the suspect exited the passenger side of a silver PT Cruiser and began searching for Amanda “Nikki” Lopez in a homeless encampment that was situated in a courtyard in front of the East Los Angeles Courthouse. The suspect located Victim Lopez in a tent in front of the field office of First District Supervisor Hilda Solis. The suspect placed a firearm into the tent and fired at Victim Lopez while she slept, striking her in the upper torso, killing her.

 
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BACKGROUND

Sheriff’s detectives made a plea to the public, hoping $80,000 will motivate someone to bring that missing piece of the puzzle and bring closure to these families. “We know there were witnesses at every murder,” said Homicide Bureau Captain Joe Mendoza. It was witnesses coupled with surveillance at scenes that allowed a good description of both suspects.

But what led sheriff’s investigators to explore a possible connection in these three murders? Captain Mendoza explained, “One of the things that’s unique about LA County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is that we are centralized and we commonly speak to other investigators about our cases.  So when investigators were comparing notes on cases, they believed they had similar description of the suspects and that’s when they really started to connect the dots. The link was the descriptions of the suspects who were similarly described.”

When the ballistic evidence from the 2014 murder of Victim Avalos was compared to the ballistic evidence from the 2015 murder of Victim Robles, the comparison determined the same handgun was used in both murders.

All three murders occurred within 2.2 miles of each other and within the same general area of East Los Angeles.  Although a motive for the murders was unclear, investigators believe the victims were known to the suspects and were specifically targeted based on their relationships with the suspects.

In the three cases, witnesses describe the main suspect as a Hispanic male with short hair in his late twenties, five feet eight inches tall with a medium build. He has a tattoo on his neck with unknown writing.

The second suspect drives the getaway vehicle and is described as a Hispanic male in his mid to late forties, five feet eight to five feet nine inches tall, heavy set build and possibly with a mustache.

“I speak for my family as well as the other two families. We don’t have closure, we don’t have justice and I’m sure all of these families are still suffering. Please help us, please come forward with any information you may have,” said Victim Avalos’ eldest sister, Maria Orozco.

 “Our brother is truly missed by our family, by his children,” added Victim Avalos weeping sister, Bertha Avalos.

Justice Deputy Esther Lim, representing LA County Board of Supervisor’s Hilda L. Solis said, “Through this $80,000 reward, the county is counting on our residents to help us bring accountability to the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”

“We’ve had nobody come forward that can really tell us who these suspects are,” said Captain Mendoza. “So we are trying to get them to come forward because we know those witnesses are out there.  And the $80,000 reward may quite possibly help do just that.”