Prosecutors say Shazer Fernando Limas, 31, killed his girlfriend and two… (Associated Press )
When police arrived at an Orange apartment on Thursday, they saw enough blood in the room to know something was seriously wrong.
They immediately began searching for the four members of the family who had lived there to ensure their safety.
That night, a detective spotted Shazer Fernando Limas, a 31-year-old father who was living with his girlfriend and two young children in the apartment. Limas, driving a Nissan 350Z out of a Santa Ana parking lot, led police on a high-speed chase for more than an hour before his car struck a spike strip. Surrounded and stuck, police say he was "cooperative" upon his arrest.
On Monday, prosecutors filed three counts of murder with special enhancements against Limas, who they allege stabbed his family to death.
Prosecutors say the slayings occurred April 14. One day later, Limas went to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for surgery on a cut to his hand. Then, in intervening days, he purchased supplies, including a tarp, from a local Home Depot. Police say that two weeks after he killed the family, Limas calmly gave the apartment keys back to property managers. Cleaning crews discovered the blood in the unit and alerted managers, who contacted authorities.
The body of his girlfriend, Arlet Hernandez Contreras, 31, was found April 25 in a gutter in La Puente. They believe Limas may have disposed of his 1-year-old and 3-month-old sons in a dumpster at the apartment building. Searchers dug through a Brea landfill for days looking for the children's remains but have found nothing. Police said Monday that they don't have any leads as to where the children's bodies may be.
Investigators are still piecing together details and are unsure what Limas did between the time of the slayings and the day he was apprehended.
"This is like something you'd see on TV," said Sgt. Dan Adams with the Orange Police Department.
Limas appeared in court Monday afternoon but did not enter a plea. An arraignment was continued to May 23.
The collective charges against Limas could result in the death penalty, but Orange County district attorney officials said the decision on whether to seek capital punishment will come at a later date. They said searches for the children's bodies will continue at the landfill Tuesday.
"We're confident in the case even if we don't find the children," Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott Simmons said.
Court records in L.A. and Orange counties show that Limas was married at least twice before he had children with Contreras. Limas was paying child support to multiple women and at least one restraining order was granted to one of his former wives, the records show.
Limas was ordered in March to pay $284 per month in child support to Contreras. He was also paying $448 per month in support to children from other relationships.
Records show that he was divorced on March 14, 2007, and a day later, his ex-wife filed a restraining order against him. He remarried by December 2007 and filed for divorce again in August 2010 — four months before one of the alleged victims, 1-year-old Fernando Limas, was born to Contreras.
On Monday, in a phone interview with The Times, Mayra Contreras confirmed that she had heard the news of her daughter's death but said she still sought more proof.
Contreras said her daughter had known Limas for three years.
She said her family came from the Coyoacan district of Mexico City 10 years ago and had held many different jobs since arriving. However, it was when the family was in the office-cleaning business that they met Limas, a man Contreras referred to as "that bad person."