Six-Years Later, Familial DNA Used to Find Killer of Teen, Young Woman

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Nearly six years have passed since the rape and killings of a teenage girl and young woman in Lincoln Heights sparked fear that a serial killer could be on the loose.

Pleas to the public, offers of rewards for information leading to the killer led nowhere.

But police kept searching for the killer of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman, finally turning to a process called familial DNA testing to find their suspect.

Michelle Lozano were killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Michelle Lozano was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

On Wednesday, 32-year-old Geovanni Borjas was charged with capital murder. Police say they cracked the case by using a familial DNA test and secretly collecting the suspect’s spit from a sidewalk.

Borjas was arrested May 25 at his home in Torrance, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said. He was charged Tuesday with two counts each of murder and forcible rape, along with a single count of kidnapping.

The charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during commission of a rape and a kidnapping. The allegations make Borjas eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek a death sentence.

Borjas pleaded not guilty, and is due back in court June 22, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. He remains jailed without bail, His attorney argued he does not pose a flight risk, noting he works full-time and is a father.

Bree’Anna Guzman was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Bree’Anna Guzman was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Borjas is suspected of kidnapping and slaying Lozano in 2011; the teen’s body was found the day after Easter, about 11:40 p.m. April 25, 2011, dumped along the Golden State (5) Freeway near State Street in Boyle Heights. The coroner said she was strangled.

Police said the body had been wrapped in plastic bags, put in a plastic container and dumped over a masonry barrier along the freeway, and when the container hit the ground, it broke open.

The eldest of six siblings, Michelle had told her mother she was going to walk to the store. She was last seen near Lincoln High School.

Calling her a bright girl who got along with everyone, friends said they were shocked by her killing.

Bree’Anna went missing 9 months later, on the day after Christmas. The mother of two small children disappeared after telling family members that she was going to walk to the Rite Aid pharmacy at the corner of Pasadena Avenue and Avenue 26, a short distance from her home in Lincoln Heights.

When Bree’Anna didn’t return, her family contacted police. They held candlelight vigils and plastered the neighborhood with posters with Bree’Anna’s face.

Geovanni Borjas was arrested in connection to the deaths of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman.  (LAPD)

Geovanni Borjas was arrested in connection to the deaths of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman. (LAPD)

Her body was found about 9 a.m. Jan. 26, 2012, near the Riverside Drive onramp to the southbound Glendale (2) Freeway in the Silver Lake area. The body was partially clothed and apparently was dumped at the location, police said.

Beck said both victims had been sexually assaulted.

In 2012, hoping to allay rumors of a serial killer on the prowl, LAPD issued an alert saying they believed the two murders were “distinct” and not connected. EGP at the time reported that police said they were unable to corroborate rumors of “several men riding around in a white van kidnapping young women from the street.”

The Los Angeles City Council first approved $50,000 rewards in each of the cases in February 2012: renewing the rewards in subsequent years to no avail.

However, Beck said detectives were eventually able to connect the crimes, and once that was done, police requested permission from the state Attorney General’s Office to perform a familial DNA search.

“After the familial search a person was identified as a contributory match to the suspect,” Beck said.

“That individual was suspect’s father, who was arrested on a non-sexual-assault-type crime earlier in his life.”

After conducting further information into the father’s background, detectives “identified a family member who they thought possibly could be the suspect involved in these (crimes) and they collected a surreptitious DNA sample,” Beck said. “They did this by following the individual. During that following, he spit on the sidewalk. Detectives collected that and the DNA was a match. It was a match to both of these murders.”

Beck declined to elaborate on a possible motive for the killings or a link between Borjas and the victims.

Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the detective work that led to the arrest, calling the victims “two innocent women who had their whole lives ahead of them.”

He said the families and friends of the victims “are finally within reach of some of the justice that they and this city deserve.”

According to Beck, the case marks only the second time police have relied on a familial DNA search, which can narrow the search for a suspect to a particular family and point detectives to suspects whose DNA is not yet in a database. Beck noted that Borjas’ DNA was not in any existing database prior to his arrest.

The only other case in which the LAPD used familial DNA was the Grim Sleeper serial-killer case, in which detectives used a discarded pizza crust to collect DNA linking the killings to Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2016.

At a police press conference Tuesday, Bree’Anna’s father. Richard Duran struggled to keep control of his emotions. His daughter did not know Borjas, Duran said in Spanish, breaking down in tears as he described his daughter as loving mother and sister, and thanked the LAPD for their efforts to bring her murderer to justice.

“I have to thank the LAPD,” he said. “… Now we know the person that hurt our family is behind bars.

“That gives me a lot of happiness. I have closure now.”

 

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Muestra de ADN Ayuda a Resolver el Caso de Dos Asesinatos

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Un hombre de 32 años, bajo sospechas de violar y matar a una adolescente y a una joven mujer hace seis años, fue acusado de asesinato, el 30 de mayo. La policía publicó que resolvió el caso gracias a una prueba de ADN familiar, al secretamente colectar el escupido del sospechoso de una acera.

Geovanni Borjas fue arrestado el jueves en su casa en Torrance, dijo el jefe del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles, Charlie Beck. Borjas fue acusado el martes con dos asesinatos y dos violaciones, además de un cargo de secuestro.

Los cargos incluyen las alegaciones de circunstancias especiales de múltiples asesinatos y asesinatos durante la comisión de una violación y un secuestro. Las denuncias hacen que Borjas califique para la pena de muerte, pero los fiscales aún no han decidido si buscarán una sentencia de muerte.

Borjas se declaró inocente y regresará al tribunal el 22 de junio, cuando se fijará una audiencia para determinar si hay evidencia suficiente para que él sea juzgado.

G Borjas 600DPI

Geovanni Borjas permanece encarcelado sin fianza. Foto cortesía de LAPD.

Los asesinatos de los que se le acusan a Borjas, son los de Michelle Lozano de 17 años de edad y de Bree’Anna Guzmán, de 22. El cuerpo de la adolescente fue encontrado alrededor de las 11:40p.m. el 25 de abril de 2011, arrojado a lo largo de la Autopista Golden State (5) cerca de la Calle State en Boyle Heights.

La policía dijo que el cuerpo había sido envuelto en bolsas de plástico y metido en un contenedor de plástico y puesto sobre una barrera a lo largo de la autopista. Según, cuando el recipiente golpeó el suelo fue que el cuerpo rodó cuando se abrió.

El cuerpo de Guzmán fue encontrado alrededor de las 9 de la mañana del 26 de enero de 2012, cerca de la entrada de la Autopista (2) hacia Glendale, de Riverside Drive, en el área de Silver Lake. El cuerpo estaba parcialmente vestido y aparentemente fue descargado en el lugar, dijo la policía.

Guzmán había sido reportada como desaparecida un mes antes. Ella dejó su hogar en Lincoln Heights el día después de Navidad para ir a una tienda, pero nunca regresó.

Beck dijo que ambas víctimas habían sido agredidas sexualmente.

MichelleLozano_Vigil

Vigilias en honor a Michelle Lozano en 2011 después de que su cuerpo se encontrara en una carretera. Foto: Archivo de EGP

Inicialmente, la policía había dicho que no creían que los dos asesinatos estaban relacionados. Sin embargo, Beck dijo que los detectives finalmente conectaron los dos crímenes y una vez hecho esto, solicitaron el permiso de La Oficina del Procurador General del Estado para realizar una búsqueda familiar de ADN.

“Después de la búsqueda familiar una persona fue identificada como un contribuyente y coincidía con el sospechoso”, dijo Beck. “Esa persona era el padre del sospechoso, quien había sido arrestado antes por un crimen no relacionado con agresión sexual”.

Después de investigar los antecedentes del padre más a fondo, los detectives “identificaron a un miembro de la familia quien descubrieron podría ser el sospechoso involucrado en estos (crímenes) y recolectaron una muestra encubierta de ADN”, dijo Beck. “Esto sucedió cuando ellos siguieron al individuo y vieron que escupió en la acera. Los detectives entonces recogieron el escupido y el ADN coincidió. Correspondió a ambos asesinatos”.

Beck se negó a elaborar sobre el posible motivo para los asesinatos o sobre el vínculo entre Borjas y las víctimas.

El alcalde Eric Garcetti elogió el trabajo de los detectives que realizaron el arresto, diciendo que las víctimas eran “dos mujeres inocentes que tenían toda su vida por delante”.

Él dijo que las familias y amigos de las víctimas “podrán estar finalmente cerca de alcanzar un poco de justicia que ellos y esta ciudad merecen”.

Según Beck, el caso sólo marca la segunda vez que la policía ha dependido de una búsqueda de ADN familiar. Este método puede achicar la búsqueda de un sospechoso a una familia especifica y dirigir a los detectives hacia los sospechosos cuyos ADN no están registrados en la base de datos. Beck señaló que el ADN de Borjas no estaba en ninguna base de datos antes de su arresto.

El único otro caso en el que el LAPD utilizó el ADN familiar fue con el arresto del “Grim Sleeper” en serie, en la que los detectives usaron un pedazo de pizza desechada por Lonnie David Franklin Jr., quien fue condenado a muerte en 2016.

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