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Man Is Arraigned in Knifing Death of Riverside Mother of 2

The registered sex offender is charged with killing Estela E. Perez and her unborn child.

June 25, 2005|Stephanie Ramos | Times Staff Writer

A 23-year-old registered sex offender was arraigned Friday for the brutal slaying of a pregnant mother of two who was attacked inside her Riverside home in March, authorities said.

Tony Lee Reynolds was charged with the stabbing death of Estela E. Perez, 29, and her unborn child.

Riverside Dist. Atty. Grover Trask said he would seek the death penalty because of the heinous nature of the crimes.

Before coming to California, Reynolds had been accused of several violent crimes in his home state of Illinois, including assaulting his father and slashing the face of another resident in a group home.

In 2003, Reynolds was sent to prison in California for attempted burglary, and was released on parole March 12, 2005, and required to register as a sex offender for exposing himself while in prison.

Nineteen days after Reynolds' release, Perez was stabbed to death. She was five months' pregnant, and was found by her sister.

The Perez family chose not to comment on the case, saying that instead they would focus on their faith in God and the justice system.

"We are just very thankful that [the arrest] happened fast and very grateful that this man will hopefully never be able to hurt anyone like this again," said Edwin Duarte, Perez's brother, during a Friday news conference outside Riverside City Hall.

Along with the murder charges, Reynolds was charged with sexual assault, sexual battery, kidnapping to commit sexual assault and burglary.

According to police, Reynolds was placed in a state-subsidized halfway house in the 6100 block of Antioch Avenue after his release from prison in March.

However, one neighbor said Reynolds' stay was short-lived, and that he had been removed or had left by the time Perez was killed.

Police said they were flooded with leads after Perez's March 31 death, including a description of the suspect from the victim's sister, but made no arrests until two similar assaults were reported in May.

Residents in the 5700 block of Brockton Avenue told police they saw a man answering Reynolds' description around the neighborhood May 9, and that he had asked a female resident for directions.

He was recognized again peering in the same resident's windows three days later, said Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach.

A half-hour later, a few blocks away in the 4300 block of Bandini Avenue, Reynolds allegedly knocked on a woman's door, asked for directions, then forced his way inside and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint, Leach said.

The victim called 911, and Reynolds was arrested a few blocks from the home. He has been in jail since his capture.

DNA evidence linked Reynolds to the Perez slaying and the sexual assault on Bandini Avenue, police said. He also was identified by the woman approached on Brockton Avenue, they said.

There is no known legitimate relationship between Reynolds and any of the women.

Even though Reynolds was a registered sex offender, his name, residence and criminal history were not subject to public disclosure under Megan's Law because he was not classified as a high-risk sex offender.

"We need to work at the state level to correct the laws which we believe do not protect our citizens [from individuals like Reynolds]," Leach said.

Last week, convicted rapist David Allyn Dokich, a high-risk sex offender living in Mead Valley, was fitted with a global positioning system tracking device, part of a statewide program to combat high-risk and repeat offenders.

Times staff writer Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.

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