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Son, Daughter-in-Law Held in Santa Ana Woman's Slaying

March 17, 1994|JODI WILGOREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The son and daughter-in-law of a woman originally thought to be the victim of random street violence were arrested Wednesday as suspects in her killing.

The son, Santos Alvarez Roque, originally told police that his mother was shot to death Sunday on the balcony of their apartment by gang members. In an interview later, he tearfully begged people "not to be so cruel, to think about the people who are affected" by the careless use of guns.

He and his wife, Maria Bruno Soto, both 24, were arrested on suspicion of murder after police discovered differences in their accounts of what happened.

Valentina Roque--a 55-year-old grandmother who had been living with her son, his wife and their 2-year-old son since coming here from Mexico eight months ago--was shot once in the chest.

Santa Ana Police Lt. Robert Helton said that investigators became suspicious as they talked to the couple and analyzed the evidence at the crime scene and in the autopsy.

"Based on the inconsistencies of their statements and the physical evidence--which I cannot discuss with you--the investigators believe that (Alvarez and his wife) are responsible for the homicide of Mrs. Roque," Helton said.

"Originally, from what we were told, (we believed) there were some people down on the street corner and someone from that street corner fired several bullets, one of which struck Mrs. Roque," he said.

Helton would not reveal the motive for the killing but said that investigators are seeking a small-caliber handgun that belongs to Alvarez.

On Tuesday, at about the same time that investigators began to suspect that Alvarez was the killer, he said in an interview: "I am a Catholic and believe that whoever did this will pay before God." Weeping, he guessed that his mother had been the victim of gang- or drug-related violence.

A 15-year-old boy who was arrested Monday on suspicion of the Roque shooting is no longer a suspect, Helton said. The youth reportedly had pointed a gun at a police officer.

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