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.


  1. Keith Combs was my brother in law. I am also pleased to report that there has been a second person arrested in connection with the slayings. The preliminary hearing for both men is in September of 2011. My sister, myself and several other family members will be traveling to San Diego for this. This case may have been cold for a long time, but in the name of these men having a voice, and showing people that they were loved, we look forward to looking these 2 cowards in the eyes and letting them see that we NEVER gave up hope for justice and that no matter how long, we would never have stopped hunting for the killer(s). Justice has long been denied Keith and Cliff (Eugene). They died way too soon and are missed by all who knew them. I only hope once this is over, it will be the closure that they and all of us deserves. May they rest in peace.

  2. Ros Macias says:

    May Keith Combs and Eugene Ellis rest in peace, there live’s where cut short by some worthless POS … thugs, and may there grieving families find peace and closure, in the name of our mighty Lord Jesus Christ.

    I also believe that I served with Keith Combs as a Fireman Machinist Mate aboard the U.S.S. Vancouver LPD-2 back in the late 80s. Please correct me if Im wrong…

    U.S. Navy Veteran Machinist Mate
    Ros Macias

  3. Ros,

    Thanks for responding. I cannot confirm whether you served with Keith but the fact that you served, means a lot to me!

    Thanks and please check back here, Vidster

  4. pedro esparza says:

    @ Andrea:
    i served on board the uss constellation with keith and eugene. i got a call from keiths wife at that time but i had already left the navy. i am glad that they caught those murderous sons of bitches. may keith and eugen rest in peace.

  5. Suzanne Stewart says:

    Keith was the husband of my cousin, Lisa. I only met him once- he seemed quiet, down-to-earth and gentle (like he would never hurt anyone). Did I get that right?

    She is here in Southern California and the hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I can’t be there to support her, but she will be in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad they finally got the scum bags and hopefully there will be some closure soon.

    God Bless Keith and Eugene.

  6. Thanks for posting, Suzanne!

  7. pedro esparza says:

    i wish i could be there but i live in northern california now, i wont be in south california till the end of novenber. but thank god that those two cowards are behind bars. please keep me posted on the resulst.@ Suzanne Stewart:

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