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Man allegedly killed stepdaughter to hide molestation

The body of the 9-year-old was found in a church parking lot in Long Beach. Authorities have accused Jacinto Zuniga Trujillo, 31, of murder and sexual abuse.

May 05, 2012|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

Nancy Eomurian was driving through a Long Beach church parking lot April 28 when she found a man covered in blood lying on the ground near the lifeless body of his 9-year-old stepdaughter.

Next to the child she saw what appeared to be nonsensical scrawl written on the side of a container.

"I first thought the scrawl was graffiti, then I realized it was blood," Eomurian said. "It was like time stopped."

Prosecutors allege that the man, 31-year-old Jacinto Zuniga Trujillo, killed the girl out of fear she would reveal that he had been molesting her.

The L.A. County district attorney's office accused Trujillo of capital murder and molestation, alleging that he had abused the girl for months.

They allege he stabbed the girl repeatedly with a knife before slashing himself in an attempt to take his own life.

The girl "was killed because she was a witness to a crime," said district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison. The crime, Robison said, was her molestation.

The charges include a special circumstances count that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty, though no decision has been made on that.

Trujillo appeared in court this week but has not entered a plea. His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.

He and the girl were found at the back of Los Altos United Methodist Church on Saturday at about 11 a.m.

Eomurian was on her way to donate blood when she found them. She got out of her car and asked Trujillo "Do you know who this is?" and pointed to the girl.

"Other daughter," he replied.

She immediately called 911, then saw Trujillo walking away. She said she told him to come back.

"I wonder to myself why is he leaving," she said. "I thought he was a victim."

Long Beach police found Trujillo near the church. He was taken to a Long Beach hospital for treatment and was released the next day. Authorities immediately took him into custody on suspicion of murder.

Neither police nor prosecutors have revealed many details about the case or how they came to learn about the alleged molestation.

Trujillo was charged with five counts of oral copulation and sexual penetration.

Eomurian, 67, said she was still coming to terms with what happened. She said she wanted to keep the memory of the girl alive by raising money to help with her burial and perhaps set up a memorial fund.

"I don't want her to be forgotten," she said.

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