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- People v. Suarez - Quadruple murder at an Auburn ranch
People v. Suarez - Quadruple murder at an Auburn ranch
Early 2001 was a devastating time for the Placer County community as the Placer County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted a quadruple murder against defendant Arturo (Juarez) Suarez.
Arturo Juarez Suarez was a seasonal worker at a 160-acre horse and cattle ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Auburn. He lived in a trailer on the ranch and worked six days a week, typically taking Sundays off. He was married and was friends with his wife’s brothers, Jose and Juan Martinez, all of whom had grown up in the same town in Mexico.
It is reported that Suarez and his wife were estranged, and she had moved back to Mexico.
On July 12, 1998, Suarez lured his estranged brothers-in-law, and family, including two young children, referred to as J.M and A.M. to the Auburn ranch. The children were only three and five years old.
Jose’s wife, who court documents refer to as Y.M., testified that she did not see Suarez initially upon her arrival, so her husband and brother Juan started working on a car. She testified that Suarez randomly appears to ask if she wanted anything from the store. He then returning with chips, a tea drink and beer.
Suddenly, Suarez put a rope around Y.M.'s neck, dragged her to the trailer, and kicked her. Her husband and brother-in-law were nowhere to be found. Her children cried and J.M., the young son, yelled, "Don't hit my mommy," while A.M., the young daughter, was hugging her brother. Suarez shouted at J.M. to shut up and Y.M. testified that she lost consciousness during the attack.
Inside the trailer, Suarez put a chain around Y.M.'s neck, tied her wrists behind her back, and tied her feet. When she regained consciousness, Y.M. was lying on the floor on her back where Suarez proceeded to violently assault her.
Y.M. testified that when she finally regained consciousness, Suarez had left. She ran to the main home on the ranch, where the owners helped her call the police.
When law enforcement arrived at the ranch, Y.M. was hysterical and badly beaten. When the officers went to look at Suarez’s trailer, he was not there but a rifle and ammunition was.
A piece of duct tape containing strands of dark hair was found in a field on the ranch. From the location of the tape, deputies noticed a set of faint tire tracks leading toward some blackberry bushes. With the assistance of search dogs, they came across a manmade opening in the bushes, with some sticks and wood placed in front of it.
The opening was about a quarter mile from the trailer. There, officers found an area of freshly moved dirt that appeared to be a grave.
An excavation team unearthed the deceased children buried down 19 inches of dirt. The two males were located nearby, also buried in a shallow grave. There was a .22-caliber expended casing inside the grave and an apparent blood stain on the floor of the grave.
Autopsies revealed that the children suffered head trauma but were ultimately killed by asphyxiation, meaning they were both tragically buried alive. Jose and Juan both died from gunshot wounds to the head.
On July 13, Suarez went into a drugstore in Auburn, purchased a shirt and a cowboy hat, and asked for quarters. He used a pay phone outside the store and called his cousin for a ride to the bus station in Sacramento.