Missing woman found dead in Fremont

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

The Hayward Police Department confirmed on Monday that 22-year-old Stacey Xanthe Aguilar, who was reported missing in San Jose on Feb. 16, is now dead.

As of yesterday, Hayward Police Department detectives arrested Esmid Valentine Pedraza, 23, on a homicide charge for the murder of Aguilar, according to a press release from HPD. Pedraza’s arraignment is set for Feb. 26 at 2pm at the Hayward Hall of Justice, held without bail.

On Friday, the HPD changed the case status from a missing person to a homicide investigation, however they did not find the body until Saturday. Her body was found in an area off of Morrison Canyon Road in Fremont after the HPD detectives investigation led them to the site.

At a press conference on Monday, HPD Chief Diane Urban confirmed that a person of interest in the case had been arrested on an unrelated charge, but their identity was being withheld until the Alameda County District Attorney’s office has formally charged them. No time table was given on when the charges will be filed.

Urban said they believe the crime took place in Hayward and the body was transported to Fremont. Residents in the North Hayward neighborhood on Silva Avenue near Jackson Street, said that they called to complain about the house party where Aguilar was last seen on Feb. 14. A neighbor near where the birthday party was held, who asked to remain anonymous, said that her daughter called the police at least once to make a noise complaint.

Urban said that there were no calls made to HPD about the party.

“We found evidence that indicated this was something more than a missing person,” Urban said. “The people of the community can sleep at night knowing that there is not a murderer out on the loose.”

According to the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau, the victim had “numerous gunshot wounds,” but a full cause of death is still pending.

The family of Aguilar reported her missing to the San Jose Police Department on Feb. 15 when she never returned home from a birthday party. Aguilar was last seen when she left the party with her boyfriend around 1 a.m., according to partygoers. Her boyfriend, who has not been identified, was arrested in relation to a domestic violence incident on the day Aguilar went missing, however Urban did not elaborate on the details of that case. She did not rule him out as a suspect.

According to Aguilar’s stepfather, Salvador Rodriguez, the family is disappointed in the way the police have handled the investigation.

“They told us not to search when we mentioned it,” Rodriguez said. “How can we do nothing while she’s missing? Why would they not want us to search?”

At the press conference at the HPD on Monday, Urban said HPD never asked the family not to search.

“I always had a funny feeling about that boyfriend of hers,” Aguilar’s mother, Marisol Lesio-Capito — who lives in Mexico — said in a phone interview on Sunday. She also confirmed that the two had been together “for a while.” Lesio-Capito also said her other daughter, who lives in San Jose and initially reported Aguilar missing to the SJPD, is the primary point of contact for police. Aguilar had a seven-year-old son who lives in Rosarito, Mexico with Lesio-Capito.

Rodriguez and Lesio-Capito both said credits cards that belonged to Aguilar have been used since she was reported missing over a week ago. A team of searchers met at the Safeway parking lot on Jackson and Amador Streets in Hayward this morning but dispersed once news spread that police announced they found Aguilar’s body on Saturday in Fremont around noon.

Editor-in-Chief, Shannon Stroud, contributed to this story.