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OC gang unit arrests cold-case murder suspect

March 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police crack open a four-year-old murder case in Santa Ana, to the relief of the victim's family. It's due to the hard work of a special cold-case homicide unit determined to track down a suspect.

"I went through it with my brother and losing my father, who was an innocent victim," said Adame.

Not a day goes by Jackie doesn't think of her brother Randy and her father Emeterio. Both men were murdered in 2006.

"We were close. My father was a mother and a father to us at the same time," said Adame.

Adame's mother died of cancer when she was 12. In 2006, her brother Randy, then 21, was shot and killed by rival gang members as he sat in his car.

Six weeks later, her 51-year-old father was killed by a suspected gang member's bullet outside his house in a shooting. He was not the intended target. A suspect was arrested shortly afterward, but police continue to search for several others.

Years passed and the cases went cold.

"I would call every two months, every three months, try to check up on it," said Adame.

"We knew that it was important to her that the case was solved. And the detectives were very happy to make that phone call," said Santa Ana Police Sgt. Lorenzo Carrillo.

"It was relief at the moment. It was sadness, because you have to remember everything again," said Adame.

Randy's suspected killer, Isaac Palacios, was tracked down by a cold-case gang homicide unit with Santa Ana Police after a witness came forward.

Isaac Palacios was arrested during a traffic stop. He was only out of jail one day after serving time for a weapons charge.

Police say Palacios is also suspected of killing 20-year-old Alberto Mendoza-Gutierrez in 2005 in an unrelated case. He is also being investigated in connection with a third murder.

"He's a career criminal," said Carrillo. "He's shown a propensity for violence."

Since 2007, when the cold-case gang homicide unit started under a federal grant, detectives have solved 14 murders and arrested 17 suspects.

Police are still searching for several suspects in Randy's case.

Adame took over her father's machine shop. She is raising her younger brother. She says she won't give up.

"I hold hope that they do, and I hope they will find them soon," said Adame.