Escondido Police Department’s Cold Case Unit Resolves the 1991 Murder of a 5-year-old

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06/02/11

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Lt. Craig Carter, 760-839-4487

In June 1991, 17-year-old Angel Mora Jimenez, a known gang member, issued random gang challenges to several people in a parked vehicle in the 800 block of South Escondido Blvd.  The family in the vehicle had just picked up pizza and was headed home for the night. Jimenez, who was armed with a small automatic handgun, attempted to shoot one of the male occupants of the vehicle and missed killing innocent 5-year-old Richard Cardenas Jr.

As part of the initial investigation, Escondido Police detectives interviewed numerous witnesses and obtained an arrest warrant for Jimenez.  Angel Mora Jimenez fled to Mexico immediately after the homicide and assumed a new name to avoid arrest. 

Over the years, Escondido Police detectives and the FBI made several attempts to locate and arrest Jimenez for this senseless crime.  This case received a lot of media coverage in 1991 and was aired on San Diego Police Department’s Crime Stoppers television program.

During the course of the investigation, information surfaced indicating that Angel Mora Jimenez moved to Tijuana, Mexico, and was living in a home with several relatives.  Further information indicated that on October 8, 2006, Angel was involved in an argument with a cousin and was reportedly shot and killed with a shotgun. Additional information revealed that Jimenez was buried in a cemetery under a false name.  The Escondido Police Department Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation and contacted members of Angel Jimenez’s family. The family members cooperated fully in this investigation and supplied information which was later used by the Cold Case Unit. Jimenez’s death was verified through his fingerprints, which were on file with the Tijuana Forensics Medical Office.  

Cold Case Detective’s Chuck Gaylor and Norm Wight (cq) located and telephoned Esperanza Hope Gonzalez, mother of the 5-year-old victim and informed her of the resolution of her son’s case. Although this case had run cold, the death of 5-year-old Richard Cardenas Jr. has had a lasting effect on many of the involved investigators. This is not the best resolution to this tragic case, but it is closure nonetheless.

Police Chief Jim Maher was the Patrol Sergeant at the time this horrible tragedy occurred. Chief Maher said, “This case has bothered me for decades and to finally have a resolution must be a relief for the family. Our hearts go out to the family during this final chapter of this senseless tragedy.”

The Cold Case Unit was formed by Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher in 2007.  The team is made up of part-time investigators and volunteers. They are charged with the dual responsibility of investigating unsolved murder cases and pursuing fugitives in murder cases where arrest warrants have been issued.

To report any suspicious activities in your neighborhood, you may contact the Police Department directly, or you may make an unidentified call on our Anonymous Tip Line at 760-743-TIPS (8477) or via our Web site at police.escondido.org.

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