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DNA leads to arrest in 1993 killing of two sailors in San Diego

DNA evidence has led to an arrest in one of San Diego's oldest and most mysterious criminal cases: the 1993 killings of two enlisted sailors from the carrier Constellation.

Leopoldo Castro Chavez II, 34, was arrested in Kent, Wash., in the Sept. 25, 1993, killing of Eugene Ellis, 20, and Keith Combs, 23. The victims' bodies were found in a field east of the 805 Freeway in the South Bay region in an area often used for bonfires, picnics and off-road vehicle riding.

The motive for the killings was robbery, said San Diego Police Lt. Ernie Herbert. Chavez offered no resistance when he was arrested by Kent and San Diego police after a traffic stop.

DNA and fingerprints were gathered at the scene of the crime, and the DNA was compared against the California DNA database. Chavez served a prison term for robbery; all prisoners are required to give DNA samples for the database.

San Diego police and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents pursued multiple leads for 17 years until the DNA match was made, said Herbert and Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Freshwater.

Chavez was not in the Navy. At the time of his arrest, he was working at an auto parts store.

Chavez's extradition to San Diego is pending.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Comments () | Archives (6)

You should correct yourself. All persons arrested in California are entered into the DNA database. You don't even need to be convicted.

eat some pizza they'll get you.

Arrested for a felony that is. Mine was a D.A. reject but I was still required to give one. I have nothing to hide but I still feel violated!

Deport him too!

Keith was my brother-in-law...EVERYDAY this family has wondered if justice would ever find this case...It looks like we might finally be on that road right now. To the Ellis family, I wish I could hug all of you and share in your celebration for this, no matter how bittersweet it seems. I'll bet that Keith and Cliff are looking down on us and smiling from ear to ear. As for the "Christianmom" who has posted on other forums, you already admitted that your husband has admitted to being a gangster before you met him...so, personally, what you know him as now has no bearing on what his DNA has proven by placing him at the scene. Not one of us cares what you think. We pity you and all of his children, but we finally feel a sense of hope for justice that is long past due. 2 WONDERFUL people are no longer with us...Lets use our brain and focus on physical evidence...not on emotion clouded judgement.

Lets not be so quick to judge. No one has been proven guilty yet. And here, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So lets not get ahead of ourselves. If this man has committed a crime, he will pay for it. But if he is the wrong man, then it would be unfortunate to pre-judge him. And to Andrea, I know this doesn't mean much from a complete stranger, but I am very sorry for your loss.


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