The suburban community of Pico
Rivera was stunned when someone apparently slipped into an unlocked
home and stabbed a beloved coach and three of his children to
Then today came another shock — word that the family’s 16-year-old adopted daughter and her 17-year-old boyfriend had been arrested. Sheriff’s investigators said forensic evidence linked the two to the crimes, but wouldn’t offer details.
“We find when investigating these crimes that history tells us you start looking in close and you work out,” Capt. Frank Merriman said, explaining why Los Angeles County homicide detectives looked for a suspect among the four surviving family members.
Investigators said they were still trying to determine what motivated the pair of suspects, although neighbors had said there was friction between the boyfriend and the girl’s father.
Serial Killing Originally Suspected District Attorney Gil Garcetti said he probably will charge the pair as adults after getting the case Friday or Monday. A new California law gives prosecutors rather than judges the authority to decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults for some felonies, although they still are ineligible for the death penalty.
Richard Flores, 42, sons Richard Jr., 17, and Matthew, 10, and 13-year-old daughter Sylvia were killed early July 21. Flores’ wife, Sylvia, 39, was wounded and remains hospitalized. Her condition was unavailable today.
The mother, who was able to offer limited information to investigators, didn’t learn of the deaths until Wednesday. She was not told of the arrests, investigators said.
“I think we have an obligation to protect her because she’s in a traumatized recovery status,” Sheriff Lee Baca said.
Amid a heat wave, the family and others in their quiet Pico Rivera neighborhood slept with their windows open the night of the attack. Neighbors feared a serial killer might be on the loose after the Flores family members were stabbed and slashed.
“I think this is important that this is not some serial killer out there,” Baca said. “Needless to say, these murders defy logic, they defy humanity, they defy explanation.”
Terrifying Ordeal The mother told authorities she awoke to find a young man wearing a blue bandanna stabbing her husband and herself but could not identify him in the darkness. An 18-year-old daughter, Esperanza, woke up and found her mother, who urged her to call for help.
A bloody knife was found outside the home’s back door, but it was unknown if other weapons were involved. Lt. Marilyn Baker said investigators had not determined whether one or both suspects committed the killings and in which order the deaths occurred.
Besides the mother and the 18-year-old daughter, the surviving family members included the 16-year-old suspect’s sister.
Family Remembered The suspect and her sister were adopted by the couple after their own mother — Sylvia Flores’ sister — died. Investigators said the girls had been members of the Flores family for “quite some time.”
The Flores family was well-known in their community, where they participated in youth sports and other activities. The father coached youth baseball, basketball and football teams, and the mother taught religious education classes at St. Hilary Catholic Church.
More than a thousand mourners packed St. Hilary for a service Sunday night in memory of the family many described as a model — one friend called the victims “the ideal picture of the Norman Rockwell family.”