Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

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

July 7, 2010 |  5:15 pm

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