Son-in-law arrested for 1998 Aliso Viejo murder

John Gutierrez (L), Lillian DeVilla (R)

Laguna Beach Police arrested an Aliso Viejo man on Wednesday for the 1998 murder of his mother-in-law.

John Gutierrez, 46, was arrested outside of an Aliso Viejo gym at about 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to Laguna Beach Police.

Lillian DeVilla was Gutierrez's mother-in-law, who resided with Gutierrez and his wife, DeVilla's daughter, in Aliso Viejo. DeVilla was reported missing on January 30, 1998.

DeVilla's body was found under a large bush on the 20200 block of Laguna Canyon Road with a bag tied around her head and a knotted cord around her neck on February 4, 1998. It was determined DeVilla was struck on the head with a blunt object, then asphyxiated. She was 55 at the time.

Gutierrez told police he saw DeVilla's car parked outside their apartment with her purse and keys inside the residence on the night of January 29. He and his wife waited a day before filing a missing persons report with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, according to police.

Gutierrez was investigated as a possible suspect at the time, but he had an alibi locating him on the El Toro Marine Base at the originally presumed time of the murder.

Police re-examined the case in 2009. Further investigation found DeVilla died at a different time than originally determined, which eliminated his alibi. Evidence was also collected from witnesses not previously interviewed.

Police believe Gutierrez murdered DeVilla at their apartment, then drove her body to Laguna Canyon. The motive for the murder was not released.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office has filed murder charges against Gutierrez.

Related Topics:
arrestcold casemurderhomicide investigationAliso Viejo
(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)