Petaluma woman arrested in murder case

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The arrest of a religious goods saleswoman in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a Santa Rosa businessman — possibly due to a bad business deal — is the latest development in a tangled web of crimes last spring in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Angela Martinez Arias, 41, of Petaluma is one of four people Napa County sheriff’s detectives say were involved with the disappearance and death of Reynaldo Pacheco, 44.

Pacheco disappeared in March, and nine days later, his bound body was found in a remote creek bed east of Napa County’s Lake Hennessey. He’d been bludgeoned to death with rocks, according to a Napa County coroner’s report on the case.

Napa detectives Wednesday afternoon picked up Arias at her Rohnert Park business, Botanica Ile Oshun Elegua, a shop with an amalgam of religious items behind a dingy storefront on Southwest Boulevard. She was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Pacheco and helping carjack his Range Rover, Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Doug Pike said.

Her arrest comes almost nine months after two Napa men were charged with Pacheco’s kidnapping, carjacking and killing — Mauricio Tovar-Telles, 24, and Norberto Guerrero Gonzalez, 29. Authorities believe the men assisted another man, now dead, in the slaying. They were arrested last spring and currently are in custody, awaiting court proceedings.

The woman had been a person of interest in the case and detectives spent months sorting out her role, said Pike, who supervises violent crime investigations.

Pacheco’s wife reported him missing after he left his Santa Rosa home March 24, saying he’d gone to a business meeting and didn’t return. Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives began looking for him, talking to family and business contacts.

While Pacheco still was missing, Arias was believed to be “the last person to have seen him,” Pike said. She initially told investigators Pacheco had come to her business the day he disappeared, but that he had left.

But when the man turned up dead, detectives went back to Arias. Investigators said they discovered that Pacheco owed her money and that she’d taken him that last morning to a rural Sonoma County area where they met two other men. He subsequently was kidnapped, taken to Napa County and killed, Pike said.

According to investigators, Pacheco had been involved in a business scam known as WCM777, or Kingdom 777. Early last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced it to be an illegal pyramid scheme targeting Asian and Latino communities worldwide. Assets were frozen.

Pacheco apparently had gotten Arias to invest an undisclosed amount of money in Kingdom 777, according to detectives. Pacheco “owed her money from a failed business relationship,” Pike said.

In the days after Pacheco’s family reported him missing, Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives sought the public’s help in the disappearance of the Santa Rosa husband, father and businessman.

Then on April 2, the case unexpectedly turned into a Napa County homicide investigation with information given by a man holed up in a Kenwood trailer during a tense, 19-hour standoff with an army of SWAT officers.

The man, Miguel Angel Garcia, 32, of Napa, was a suspect in a recent weapons and shooting case in Napa and had a long history of criminal convictions, including on drug, domestic violence and other charges.

Napa officers had gone to the trailer the night of April 1 in an attempt to arrest him on gun charges connected to a Napa shooting. But armed with a gun, Garcia briefly held a woman hostage and kept a series of SWAT teams from several agencies at bay throughout the night and into the next day.

While talking with negotiators, he confessed to killing Pacheco and described where they could find the man’s body.

Garcia then shot and killed himself as SWAT officers surrounding the trailer ramped up efforts to get him to give up.

Garcia’s admission prompted a flurry of investigations by various law agencies to see if he could be involved in open crimes. He eventually was connected to the kidnapping of a Rohnert Park man taken while meeting men claiming they wanted to buy his vehicle, the Napa shooting case and Pacheco’s death.

Two men currently are in Sonoma County Jail on more than $2 million bail each awaiting trial on the Rohnert Park kidnapping case.

I n that case, the man’s family paid a ransom and he was taken to the Lake Hennessey area, tied up and left. One of the Pacheco killing suspects, Tovar-Telles, also is suspected of attempted homicide in the Napa shooting case, using one of Garcia’s guns.

“This case has had a turn there and a turn here and more people involved each way you go. I am sure there are some things we don’t know about yet,” said Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Blower, whose coroner’s investigators also worked on the Pacheco case.

In the latest developments involving the Pacheco slaying, it was Arias who was the connection between the victim and suspected killer Garcia, according to investigators.

On March 24, Pacheco left his Santa Rosa home in his 2006 Range Rover at about 10 a.m. headed for a business meeting. He was last heard from at 2:40 p.m. when he called a friend and asked that person to pick up his young daughter, as he wouldn’t make it to the elementary school on time.

Investigators determined Arias and Pacheco had gone together that morning in Pacheco’s Range Rover to a meeting, which took place on a private ranch driveway off Stage Gulch Road, east of Petaluma.

There, they met up with Garcia and Tovar-Telles — apparently two men unknown to Pacheco, Pike said.

The four left together in the Range Rover, leaving the second vehicle behind, he said. Pike said it appears Arias was dropped off in Sonoma and the car next stopped in Napa, where another man, Gonzalez, got in.

An arrest warrant for the two male suspects and a coroner’s report laid out a chilling scene.

The three men with Pacheco drove onto property off Sage Canyon Road, passed through a locked gate and turned onto an unmarked earthen road leading to a creek bed.

According to the arrest warrant, Tovar-Telles handed rocks to Garcia, who bludgeoned Pacheco. Gonzalez also was present during the slaying and assisted “with events leading up to” Pacheco’s death, according to arrest warrants for the pair.

Investigators would later find Pacheco seated against a log jam in the clear, rushing creek. His hands were bound behind him with one of his shoelaces and tape.

A white T-shirt was tied around part of his face. An autopsy found he had died after being beaten in the head.

On Thursday, the day after Arias’ arrest, two Napa County sheriff’s detectives drove to the Fresno area and with the help of a translator, spoke with 10 members of Pacheco’s family.

They told his wife, brothers and sisters, and other family members about the latest arrest, said Napa detective Chris Pacheco, no relation, who investigated the case.

“It was an emotionally charged evening,” said the detective. “They are the family of a homicide victim. We wanted to provide news of a suspect being arrested, a development that should be done in person.”

Chris Pacheco said family members declined to be interviewed but they expressed their ongoing sense of loss and asked the detective to pass on that Reynaldo Pacheco cared greatly for his wife, young daughter and extended family.

“He was a very dedicated family man. He was a guy who worked hard to the end,” Chris Pacheco said.

Staff Writer Julie Johnson can be reached at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem. Staff Writer Randi Rossmann can be reached at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rossmannreport.

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