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Escondido Police Arrest Suspect in a 1989 Homicide

Vicente Flores-BenitesOn Thursday, October 14th, at about 830 am, Escondido Police Officers took custody of Vicente Flores-Benites, 49, for the 1989 shooting death of Margarito Navarette, 41 of Escondido. Flores-Benites was extradited from Mexico with the help of the Escondido Police Department’s “Cold Case Team,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Extradition Office of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

This arrest and extradition from Mexico resulted from a four year long fugitive investigation conducted by Escondido Police Cold Case Detectives Chuck Gaylor and Norm Wight. Also participating in this investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of International Affairs in Washington DC, the Extraditions Office of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Flores-Benites, now 49 years of age, was 28 at the time of the 1989 murder. He is accused of shooting and killing Mr. Margarito Navarette, while both attended a party at a residence in the 700 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue in Escondido, CA.

Witnesses who were interviewed in 1989 said Margarito Navarette, who was unarmed, was shot at point blank range several times while seated on a sofa. There were several dozen witnesses present at the 1989 homicide as they attended a combination birthday party and Quincenera rehearsal dinner.

Although many people were present at this party, including young children, only one other person was slightly injured during this assault. After the shooting, Vincente Flores-Benites fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution.

Coincidentally, both Escondido Police Department Cold Case Detective Chuck Gaylor and Riverside District Attorney Commander Martin Silva worked at Escondido Police Department at the time of the murder and were instrumental in the initial investigation.

Cold case detectives reviewed this case and then began locating witnesses and conducting searches of various databases in an attempt to locate Flores-Benites As in other fugitive cases, a warrant had been issued after the crime occurred, but Flores-Benites whereabouts were unknown. During the investigation, cold case detectives interviewed numerous witnesses in an attempt to locate Flores-Benites. Ultimately, Commander Martin Silva of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office was able to locate an address for the wanted fugitive in Tijuana, Mexico. This information was the catalyst for the extradition proceedings.

After a possible address was found for Mr. Flores-Benites in Tijuana, assistance was requested from the Extradition Unit of the San Diego District Attorney’s Office. Deputy District Attorney Jane Via coordinated the filing of all appropriate legal documents between Escondido Police cold case detectives and the United States Office of International Affairs in Washington D. C.

Thereafter, Escondido cold case detectives requested assistance of the San Diego FBI in utilizing their contacts with Mexican authorities to apprehend the suspect on a provisional arrest warrant.

On May 24, 2010, Mr. Flores-Benites was arrested in a Tijuana suburb and placed in custody of Mexican authorities. He was flown to Mexico City by Mexican authorities where he was afforded the proper court hearings. The Mexican court subsequently ordered Flores-Benites extradited to the United States.

Mr. Flores-Benites will be arraigned on a charge of homicide, California Penal Code 187, in a San Diego County Superior Court. He is currently in custody on a no bail warrant. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor.

Vicente Flores-Benites is the first Mexican National extradited from Mexico by the Escondido Police Department. He is the eighth person to be extradited out of Mexico by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

The return of Vicente Flores-Benites was made possible through the FBI's Project Welcome Home (PWH). Normally, extraditions can take months or years to be completed. However, when a nation decides to expel or deport a fugitive, Project Welcome Home enables the FBI to quickly respond and expedite the repatriation of the fugitive. Project Welcome Home funds the round trip travel of two law enforcement officials and a one-way trip for the fugitive from a foreign country to the United States.

Since its inception in 2004, over 400 FBI fugitives from more than 42 countries have been returned to the United States to face prosecution.

Due to the numerous witnesses to this very blatant homicide, members of the Hispanic community in Escondido have been instrumental in this investigation, and Escondido Police Department wishes to extend gratitude for their efforts in keeping Escondido safe for all its citizens.

The Escondido Police Department cold case team was created by Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher over three years ago. The team began actively attempting to solve old homicide cases, and also began attempting to bring fugitives in other murder cases to justice. One of the cold case team’s early successes was the arrest of Michael Moon for a homicide occurring 30 years earlier in Escondido in May of 1977.

Junior Seau Injured in Traffic Accident

On October 18th, Carlsbad Police received a 911 call regarding a single vehicle off the roadway near the cliffs at Carlsbad Blvd at Solamar Ave. Officers and Fire Department personnel responded to the location and located a tan Cadillac SUV. Preliminary investigation shows the vehicle left the roadway and travelled over the cliff, landing on the beach below.

The vehicle was occupied by the driver, a male who was identified as Junior Seau.

Seau was transported by Carlsbad Fire to Scripps La Jolla Hospital to be treated for his injuries. Investigation is continuing into how and why the accident occurred.

16-Year-Old Assault Victim Hospitalized

On October 13, 2010, at approximately 3pm, a group of Hispanic males were seen chasing a black male in the area of 100 S. Midway Drive. According to witnesses, a citizen driving a silver or light grey P.T. Cruiser appeared to make a quick and abrupt turn into the driveway bumping one of the Hispanic males that was chasing the black male. The Hispanic male turned around and yelled at the driver at which time the driver accelerated and ran over the male. The vehicle fled the scene and was last seen headed westbound on East Grand Avenue.

The driver of the P.T. Cruiser is described as a 30 year old male. The Hispanic male sustained numerous injuries and was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

The driver and vehicle have not yet been located or identified. Escondido Police Detectives need help identifying the driver of the vehicle. Anyone with information regarding the driver’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact Escondido Police or Crime Stoppers. To report any suspicious activities in your neighborhood, you may contact the Escondido Police Department directly, or you may make an unidentified call on the “Anonymous Tip Line” at (760) 743-TIPS (8477) or via our Web site at

Smuggled Mexican Nationals Captured

A multiagency force caught 21 Mexican adults trying to enter the county Friday on a small boat in south Carlsbad, officials said.

The California National Guard, working to support customs and Border Patrol agents, spotted a panga boat along the coastline south of Carlsbad State Beach at about 2:30 a.m. Officers and agents met the boat as it reached shore, according to the customs and Border Patrol.

Many of those aboard the boat ran ashore, while three others tried to escape by pushing the boat back to sea ---- but they gave up that attempt when they spotted the emergency lights of an approaching boat with law enforcement officers aboard, the agency said.

Officials arrested 20 men and one woman as suspected illegal immigrants, and seized the boat, officials said.

Doug Best 85th Birthday Celebration at Welk Resorts Theatre

Plans are well underway for the Welk Resorts Theatre’s plan to host and recognize popular local radio personality, Doug Best, in celebration of his 85th birthday.

On Sunday, October 24th, at 1pm, there will be a reception at the theatre. There will be snacks and soft drinks as well as a cash bar. Showtime is at 2pm - featuring the actress, Cloris Leachman.

Following the show, Ms. Leachman and Doug will mingle with the guests. The Welk Resorts organization has made special arrangements for a limited number of special tickets in honor of Doug’s 85th. They have theatre tickets, normally $65 priced at just $35 . . . and a combination brunch and show tickts package for just $53

In order to receive those special prices, however, you have to specify a code. If calling, you must specify APO for the $35 theatre ticket only price, or AWM for the $53 price of brunch and theatre ticket.

Doug and his lovely Lorene, his wife of 65 years, will be there to meet you and enjoy the honor offered him. To book reservations, call 1-888.SHOW (7469) (toll free). If you have any other questions, call The Paper at 760.747.7119.

Carlsbad Voters to Vote on Pension Reform

A ballot measure in November will allow Carlsbad voters to decide whether pensions should increase for city firefighters and police officers.

Those who support the measure claim it will allow the city to cut costly pension costs in the future; those who oppose the issue say it will decrease the ability of the city to attract top personnel.

The ballot measure mandates that any increases in the pensions of public safety employees must win voter approval. Essentially Prop. G would help lock in recent changes to the city's pension system for public safety workers.

Many cities across the country are facing out of control pensions costs for present and past employees and are seeking to have more control on new hires and pension terms. Carlsbad indicates that its pension expenses have soared from $2.5 million to $15.2 million over the last decade.

San Marcos City Officials Keep Secret a Fire Risk Map

The North County Times reports that San Marcos city officials kept from public view a color-coded map showing varying degrees of risk to residents from catastrophic wildfires.

NCTimes staff writer Deborah Sullivan Brennan further reports that properties judged to be in "extreme" danger of property loss, death or injury ---- were held back from public view for fear insurance companies would use the information to justify dropping policies or hiking rates.

The study, which had been commissioned in 2005, showed ‘extreme’ danger in two communities, Coronado Hills and Attebury, and five neighborhoods of ‘very high’ risk.

The North County Times obtained the color-coded map after it was briefly presented to planning commissioners at a meeting over the summer.

The Great California Shakeout

Today, Thursday, October 21 at 10:21 a.m., along with more than 7.1 million of our fellow Californians, the City of Escondido will participate in The Great California ShakeOut!

As part of the City’s participation in the event, the Fire Department will test its newly updated Earthquake Response plan by having each station actually implement the plan as if a real quake had just occurred. This means each station will move equipment out of the building and drive through their response areas conducting a "windshield survey" for possible damage.
This city wide event is but one in a series of these realistic exercises.

If Heaven Was Made of Chocolate –Old Town Temecula’s Sweet Shop

Sweet ShopOne day I picked up my youngest daughter from her new charter school at noon. I told her we’d have lunch at a restaurant in Old Town Temecula because I need to write about it for The Paper. She told her friends, “We’re going out to lunch because my mommy’s a writer.”

We walked up and down the sidewalks as I pointed out the restaurants I already reviewed. Since this was the only time I had company for a review, I let her choose the site. She twisted my arm and said, “Let’s have ice cream for lunch!” I kicked and screamed for a while but I gave in.

We opened the door to a plethora of sweet treats, lollipops and bulk candy displayed like an old time general store. One shelf held only British items (including sponge pudding called Spotted Dick) next to the fudge counter. If heaven was made of chocolate, this fudge would make up God’s throne.

We decided we’d wait for the fudge after the ice cream. The Sweet Shop serves Cascade Glacier. My daughter goes for any flavor that has the most Day-Glo colors, so she chose Cotton Candy. I have a soft spot (and I sit on it) for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups so I chose chocolate mixed with peanut butter. Each cone was only 3 dollars each – less than your everyday cup of corporate coffee.

After we sat down, another mom and daughter ordered the same flavors we did. We surveyed the window which displayed old metal lunch boxes like Wizard of Oz and the Beatles Yellow Submarine. Vintage signs cover the wall advertising Frozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (genius!) and a row of pine trees with one fallen that reads, “Who cut one?”
Once we ate our frozen paradise, we sampled different fudge made with mint, toffee, caramel and Snicker bars. I bought 6 squares for about 14 dollars to ship to a friend. Though the fudge is perishable, the lady serving us said she mailed the fudge to Alaska and it kept. My friend was grateful. When she got it, she couldn’t stop eating it though it was only 8 a.m.

The Sweet Shop employees are the nicest, most patient people which makes me visit the Shop almost every time I’m in Old Town. After a little arm-twisting, of course.

Old Town Sweet Shop is located at 28545 Old Town Front Street (951.693.1919)

Terri Lyn Jones
Temecula, CA

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