What We Know Now About the Man Charged with Killing, Dismembering Wife in Vacant Pasadena Building

Investigators described the slaying as "sheer brutality," and stress it was not random but a very personal attack

Published : Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | 9:24 PM

Los Angeles Police Robbery-Homicide Division Captain William Hayes addresses reporters at Los Angeles Police Headquarters on February 6, 2018

A homeless man staying at a Pasadena shelter was charged Tuesday with killing a person believed to have been his wife inside a former Pasadena restaurant early last week, then dismembering her and carrying her body parts in a suitcase on a Metro Gold Line train to the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles, where the suitcase was found on fire on February 1 about 1:30 a.m.

Los Angeles Police and SWAT surround Union Station Homeless Services on Friday, February 2, 2018. Photo Kevin Agovino

Los Angeles Police Robbery-Homicide Division detectives arrested the suspect, Valentino Gutierrez, 56, shortly after 10 a.m. last Friday outside the Union Station Homeless Services Adult Center at 412 South Raymond Avenue in Pasadena.

Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles County District Attorney charged Gutierrez with one count of murder and arson of property using an accelerant. He was arraigned in Department D of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pasadena Branch and bail was set at $2.17 million.

Gutierrez is currently being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles.

Police said that Gutierrez has a “very significant criminal history,” with prior convictions for burglary, sexual battery, felony battery, domestic violence, possession of a deadly weapon, robbery, narcotics, and negligent discharge of a firearm.

At a press conference at Los Angeles Police Headquarters Tuesday afternoon, police recounted how detectives quickly traced the murder suspect to Pasadena.

Los Angeles Chief of Detectives Justin Eisenberg and Robbery-Homicide Division Captain William Hayes said that detectives responded to 2055 N. Figueroa Street near the parking lot of a Home Depot in Cypress Park last Thursday morning shortly after firefighters extinguished the suitcase fire and discovered human remains.

Using police bloodhounds and Los Angeles County Metro videos, detectives back-tracked the suspect to a Gold Line train where on videos they saw him with a bicycle and the same suitcase which had been found burning.

“Ultimately, these efforts led us to a location on Raymond [Avenue] in the city of Pasadena,” Captain Hayes said.

Interviewed and shown photographs police recovered from Metro’s security cameras, witnesses in the area near the Union Station Homeless Services facility “provided information leading to the identity of Valentino Gutierrez as our possible suspect,” Hayes said.

Gutierrez was arrested last Friday morning about 10 a.m.

“Follow up investigation led to a possible crime scene in an abandoned restaurant near the area of California Boulevard and Arroyo Parkway,” Hayes said.

The restaurant, formerly known as Dona Rosa Bakery and Taqueria at 577 S. Arroyo Parkway, is vacant and has been closed for about two years, police said. The restaurant property is only several blocks from the Union Station shelter.

Hayes said that although positive identification of the body will be difficult, detectives believe it will prove to be 31-year-old Tiana Alfred, the suspect’s wife.

“The coroner has to do some extensive work to identify the individual,” Hayes said.

Earlier, on Tuesday morning, Coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter said the Medical Examiner has not yet determined the victim’s gender.

Police said that both Gutierrez and Alfred were homeless and were staying in the shelter, but Alfred is now missing.

“We believe the murder probably occurred on the 30th [of January] at this point in time. And her body was transported on the morning of the first [of February] just after midnight and was set on fire somewhere around 1:30 in the morning,” Hayes said.

He said Gutierrez is thought to have boarded the Gold Line train at one the stations near the vacant restaurant. Videos show there were other people on the train when he boarded, but apparently nothing about Gutierrez attracted attention.

Hayes said detectives are “still working on powerful motives for the brutal homicide.”

He also said police have not yet recovered a murder weapon.

The investigation and arrest in Pasadena have been Los Angeles Police operations since detectives first located the body in their jurisdiction and tracked the suspect’s whereabouts to South Raymond Avenue.

Tuesday afternoon, Pasadena police released a statement which said the Department is now working collaboratively with Los Angeles Police detectives on the investigation.

“Although the crime allegedly occurred in an abandoned commercial property on S. Arroyo Parkway, the police department only responded to the location three times in 2017, for homeless-related concerns,” the statement said. “The Pasadena Police Department will continue to work closely with the Code Enforcement Section to conduct high visibility patrols and ensure the structure on the property is secured.”

Pointing out that the murder did not appear to be random and there are indications that the victim was known to the suspect, the statement said that Pasadena continues to be a safe community.

“Overall crime dropped about 22% over the past year (YTD according to Pasadena Police preliminary analysis),” the statement said.

“Any act of violence is concerning and is never acceptable. Pasadena Police Officers work proactively to safeguard our community. Our efforts in this case underscore the robust partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, which cannot be underestimated” said Pasadena Police Chief Sanchez.

If convicted as charged, Gutierrez faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

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