DNA, witnesses connect homeless man to deaths of 2 women: reports

Crime Watch

Adrian Chavez held paper in front of his face during his arraignment on two counts of murder.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Two women, their deaths occurring eight months apart, suffered similar grisly injuries including deep cuts to the head, severe bruising to the face and broken bones.

Their bodies were located within a short walking distance of each other. Each was homeless.

And each had dated Adrian Chavez.

Multiple people — including several in the homeless community and a Child Protective Services worker — identified Chavez, also homeless, as having been with the women shortly before they died, according to newly released court documents.

Chavez reported one of the deaths, and DNA evidence found on a two-by-four used to beat one of the women links him to the other crime scene, Bakersfield police investigators say in the filings.

Chavez, 34, is charged with two counts of murder in the October 2020 death of Marilyn Cuervo and the July death of Crystal Hernandez. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Jan. 11.

A code enforcement officer assisting Environmental Protection Agency workers collecting soil samples the morning of Oct. 12, 2020, at first believed the woman lying between two cement walls in a vacant field near Daniels Lane was sleeping.

It wasn’t until he approached that he saw the injuries to her face and head. She was obviously dead, the documents say.

Police arrived and noticed blankets and pieces of carpet had been piled on the woman as if someone tried to cover her up, according to the documents.

A woman who arrived at the scene told police the dead woman, later identified as Cuervo, 28, had been homeless and living between the concrete walls.

Cuervo had been pregnant and often hung out in the area of Brundage Lane and South Union Avenue, the woman told police.

Investigators questioned people in that area and learned a woman had recently given birth outside a Little Caesars Pizza, the documents say. A detective contacted Child Protective Services and learned a worker had take the baby into protective custody.

That worker later identified Chavez as being in the company of Cuervo three days before her death, according to the documents.

Also, someone came forward months later to report hearing rumors Chavez had been bragging about killing a woman and getting away with it, the documents say.

Early July 26, Chavez called 911 and reported his girlfriend was bleeding in a room at the abandoned Desert Star Motel on South Union Avenue, the filings say. Police found Hernandez, 36, seated in a stroller with deep cuts to her head, her face swollen and right eye swollen shut.

Chavez, who initially gave a false name, told investigators he had been collecting cans and when he returned to his room at the Desert Star he found Hernandez injured.

He said he performed CPR, carried her outside and placed her in the stroller, the filings say. Then he located a man and used his phone to call authorities.

According to the documents, Chavez said he and Hernandez had dated but then she dated other men.

A witness told police he heard banging and moaning but couldn’t identify where it was coming from. He said he walked to the front of the motel and Chavez rapidly approached and asked to use his phone.

The witness said Chavez had treated women badly in the past, according to the documents.

Two days later, a detective investigating the October homicide was informed by an investigator looking into Hernandez’s death of the similarities between the two cases.

“It should be noted the dirt field (Cuervo’s) body was located at is just southeast of 516 South Union Avenue and within a short walking distance from where the victim was found on the homicide Detective Petris was investigating,” a detective wrote in the filings.

“For this reason, coupled with the stark similarities in both offenses and the fact both homicides involved at a least a mention of Adrian Chavez, I suspected both homicides were possibly related,” he wrote.

Chavez was arrested Oct. 27 at Planz Park.

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