SANTA ROSA — A man recently released from prison is being sought after a relative of his was found decapitated inside a Santa Rosa home, authorities said Friday.
Santa Rosa police said officers responded Thursday at about 3:40 p.m. to the 2500 block of Pomo Trail, just south of W. Steele Lane and west of Coffey Lane, about a possible homicide. Officers found the decapitated woman inside a home and her head was not located, police said.
Investigators identified the suspect as 24-year-old Santa Rosa resident Luis Gustavo Aroyo-Lopez, a relative of the victim. Police believe Aroyo-Lopez killed the victim at the home, took the victim’s head with him when he fled and may still be in possession of it.
Neighbors are in shock after hearing about this brutal crime. They say this is normally a very quiet neighborhood.
Jessica, who didn’t give her last name, lives near the home where the woman was found dead. She’s concerned the suspect might return to the area and didn’t want to be identified on camera.
Jessica says she saw Luis Gustavo Aroyo Lopez walking toward her neighbor’s home around noon on Thursday.
“He just walked, a normal pace, and made an exact turn up the walkway and knocked on the door. I paused over here with my dog just to make sure my neighbor knew who he was,” Jessica said.
She overhead the two talking but nothing about the conversation alarmed her.
“She was surprised and happy and I heard the word ‘you.’ They were just, you know, talking and then the door closed and I thought ‘Phew! She knows the guy.'”
Three hours later, Jessica heard a friend of the victim, frantically running out of the house.
“She kept yelling ‘No head!’ and I wasn’t sure what she meant.”
Jessica says the victim’s friend went in and out of the house, looking for the head.
Aroyo-Lopez is described as Hispanic, about 5-foot 6-inches tall, about 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has a large tattoo of “420” and a marijuana leaf on the left side of his head. He was last seen wearing a long-sleeve black hooded sweatshirt or jacket, black pants, and white shoes. He believed to have left the walking south on Iroquois Street.
Lt. Christopher Mahurin with the Santa Rosa police department said, “To have this kind of incident happen where someone was very recently released from prison; to make the effort from Bakersfield to come directly to Santa Rosa with an apparent motive to kill a family member is significant.”
Neighbors say Lopez is the victim’s grandson but that has not been confirmed.
“I know we’ve been reaching out to CDC to see if there is any correspondence that they can help us out with and give us a tip to why this is happening and we’re working with the family to see if there’s been some sort of feud or something else that may have led to this violence,” Lt. Mahurin said.
Police said Aroyo-Lopez has other relatives in the San Joaquin Valley area but it is unknown if that is his destination or what his current means of travel are.
Aroyo-Lopez is on Postrelease Community Supervision (PRCS) after being recently released from state prison for assault with a deadly weapon and weapons possession, a case unrelated to the Pomo Trail victim. He currently has an active homicide warrant for his arrest and should be considered armed and dangerous, police said. If anyone sees him, they are urged not to contact him and to call 911.
Anyone with information about the case was asked to contact the Santa Rosa Police at 707-543-3590 or through the department’s tipline at www.srcity.org/CrimeTips. A reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect is being offered by the Sonoma County Alliance Community Engagement and Safety Rewards Fund.