Family of couple brutally killed in San Diego in 1977 fight to keep killer from getting parole

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The family of a couple who was beaten to death in 1977 are fighting to keep the man convicted of killing them in prison since he is up for parole.

James and Essie Effron planned to retire in 1977. Essie fought cancer and they decided to close their popular clothing store in downtown San Diego. At about the same time, one of their temporary employees, 22-year-old Jose Gonzalez, was fired for being rude to customers.

Essie told her daughter, Dr. Cheryl Effron, that Gonzalez's reaction scared her.

"When she let him go, he looked at her like he was going to kill her and that no one had ever looked at her like that. That was my last conversation with my mother," Cheryl said.

Gonzalez came back to the store on Nov. 21 with two accomplices. James and Essie were tied up with neckties and beaten with metal pipes.

"The police had already cleaned up and I was ankle-deep in dried blood after they had cleaned up. The murder scene was a bloody, incredible disaster," Cheryl said.

Today, the crime would be eligible for the death penalty, but at the time Gonzalez was convicted, he received life in prison with the possibility for parole. In 2015, Gonzalez was granted parole but Gov. Jerry Brown blocked it.

The 62-year-old comes up for parole again Wednesday, and the Effron's kids, Cheryl and Gary Effron, will be there to fight it.

"Here I am, in the room, staring at that monster who murdered my parents. I have some say in his future. Hopefully, what I say and what my sister says can have some influence on parole board commissioners to help keep this man behind bars and keep everybody safe from this man," Gary Effron said.

The Effrons said the law needs to be changed to stop Gonzalez and others who committed brutal crimes from getting a chance for parole. They said that is their goal - to keep killers in prison.
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.