Tulare Sheriff closes 22-year-old cold case homicide

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After 22 years, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office closed a cold case homicide out of Earlimart, the Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

In August, Detective Chris Dempsie began looking into the murder of Edward Perez of Earlimart. Perez was killed in his front yard on July 10, 1995 as he tried to break up a disturbance between two of his neighbors, the Sheriff’s Office said.

His neighbor, Antonio Morales Zamora, pulled out a handgun during the altercation and shot and killed Perez – who had been acting as a peacekeeper, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators at the time knew Zamora had killed Perez and feared he had fled to Mexico, Dempsie said.

In 1997, Zamora was arrested by Immigration and Naturalization Service agents – which is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security – in Arizona under the alias Antonio Garcia Rodriguez, but it wasn’t until 2002 that his fingerprint taken during that arrest revealed he was a homicide suspect, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Dempsie met with the victim’s daughter recently; she was only 7 years old when her father was killed.

Using social media sites and online people searches, Dempsie began researching the case.

Investigation revealed that Zamora died on May 16, 2017 in Tijuana at the age of 60.

“The case is closed, and I’m glad to give the family some closure,” Dempsie said. “We know he won’t be killing anyone else.”

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