Arrest in 1993 murders of sailors Keith Combs and Eugene Ellis

SAN DIEGO – Authorities say DNA evidence led to an arrest in the 1993 killings of two enlisted sailors whose bodies were found in a field in San Diego County.

Leopoldo Castro Chavez II was arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of gunning down the two men in an Otay Mesa field nearly 17 years ago. Chavez was leaving for work when civilian and military investigators arrested him outside his home in Kent, Washington, according to San Diego police.

A recently discovered DNA match implicated Chavez in the slayings of sailors Keith Combs, 23, and Eugene Ellis, 20, according to SDPD homicide Lt. Ernie Herbert.

Leopoldo Castro Chavez II

On the morning of Sept. 25, 1993, people riding off-road vehicles discovered the victims’ bodies in an undeveloped area east of Palm Avenue and Interstate 805. They had been shot to death, and a truck belonging to one of them had been stolen.

The previous night, the San Diego-stationed servicemen had gone to the remote locale along with other Navy members to socialize and drink beer around a bonfire, Herbert said.

Though detectives who documented the murder scene recovered fingerprints and genetic evidence apparently belonging to the killer, the original investigation yielded no arrests.

“Navy personnel, co-workers, citizens and family members were initially interviewed extensively in an attempt to determine the motivation for the attack and to hopefully identify potential suspects,” the lieutenant said. “Regardless, all leads were exhausted, and the investigation was (suspended).”

Last November, San Diego police laboratory personnel notified the department’s cold-case investigators of a potential match between the previously unidentified biological evidence recovered from the site of the slayings and Chavez’s profile in a national DNA database.

Following further investigation, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office obtained a warrant for Chavez’s arrest.

The suspect was booked into Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, where he will be held pending extradition to San Diego.

The original post is here.

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