A detective in Tulare County has solved a 22-year-old homicide – but the murderer will never be brought to justice in a court of law.
On July 10, 1995, Edward Perez, of Earlimart, tried to break up a fight between two neighbors. For trying to be a peacemaker, the 32-year-old was shot to death in his front yard, the sheriff’s department said this week in announcing how it solved the case.
Authorities always knew who did it: Antonio Morales Zamora, who had pulled out a handgun. But he fled to Mexico and escaped arrest.
The victim’s daughter was only 7 years old. She recently contacted the sheriff’s department about the case.
Detective Chris Dempsie, hired last year to try to solve cold cases, looked in the file and learned that Zamora had been arrested in 1997 by INS agents in Yuma, Arizona. But Zamora gave authorities a fake name and birthdate, allowing him to slip through the cracks and be deported to Jalisco, Mexico.
Five years later, the Yuma Police Department looked at the fingerprints from the arrest and learned his true identity and that he was wanted for murder.
Dempsie tried to track down Zamora using social media sites and online people searches. He finally found his man – but it was too late: Zamora died May 16, 2017 in Tijuana. He was 60.
Dempsie was philosophical about the development.
“The case is closed and I’m glad to give the family some closure,” he said. “We know he won’t be killing anyone else.”