Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 6, 2007
Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
City of Placentia Police Dept
COUSINS WHO PROVIDED EACH OTHER’S ALIBI 13 YEARS AGO CHARGED WITH MURDER OF ONE OF
THE MEN’S GIRLFRIEND
*A brother charged with accessory and dissuading a witness
FULLERTON – Cousins who provided each other’s alibi 13 years ago have been arrested this morning for the multiple stabbing murder of one of their girlfriends. Additional evidence was recently analyzed linking the two to the crime scene. A brother of these men was arrested on charges of being an accessory after the fact and dissuading a witness from giving information about this case. Placentia Police Department investigated this case with the assistance of the Orange County District Attorney’s Task force review aimed at catching Killers, Rapists and Sexual offenders (TracKRS) Unit.
Sam Lopez, 35, and Xavier Lopez, 35, cousins from Placentia, have been charged with the 1994 murder of Sam Lopez’ girlfriend Cathy Torrez. Sam and Xavier Lopez are being held on $5 million bail each and could face 26 years to life in state prison if convicted. Armando Lopez, 36, Placentia, older brother of Sam Lopez, is being held on $500,000 bail. Armando faces three years and eight months in prison if convicted. The three are expected to appear at the North Justice Center, Fullerton, next week.
On February 12, 1994, Cathy Torrez, 20, Placentia, left work from Sav-On Drug Store in Placentia. She told a co-worker she was going to meet Sam Lopez. When she didn’t come home, her family immediately contacted the police. Friends and family began an intensive search throughout Placentia and surrounding cities.
A week later, the victim’s red Toyota Corolla was discovered in the parking lot of Placentia-Linda Hospital at 1301 Rose Drive in Placentia. Cathy Torrez’s body was found inside the trunk. She had been stabbed multiple times in her neck and chest. Sam and Xavier Lopez provided an alibi for each other on the night of the murder.
In 1997, forensic testing linked Xavier Lopez’s DNA and fingerprint to evidence found in the victim’s car. No physical evidence linking Sam Lopez was detected at the time. In June of 2007, additional forensic testing was completed on newly tested pieces of evidence. Sam and Xavier Lopez were linked to the crime through DNA. Armando Lopez is accused of helping his relatives conceal the murder and telling a witness not to give evidence to law enforcement.
Formed in 1997, TracKRS stands for Task force review aimed at catching Killers, Rapists and Sexual offenders. The unit assists local law enforcement in the discovery, investigation, and apprehension of homicide and violent sexual offenders, using modern technology. TracKRS focuses on homicide cases and sexual assaults and maintains a database of information on more than eight thousand cases dating back to 1960.