Kings County sheriff’s deputies arrested a farmer from a well-respected family on suspicion of murder Tuesday after he called to report a possible dead person inside his home.
Just after 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Department received a call from the home in the 15500 block of 14th Avenue south of Armona, where deputies found a dead woman inside.
They arrested Joe Alcala, 50, who was acting strangely and had blood on his clothing, the Sheriff’s Department said.
The victim was identified as Deborah Lynn Jessup, 48, of Hanford. The Sheriff’s Department provided no details on any connection between Jessup and Alcala.
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An autopsy Wednesday showed Jessup died from stab wounds to her torso. She may have been dead for up to 24 hours before deputies were called, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Alcala is an owner of the family-run Alcala Farms and is a former member of the Kings County Farm Bureau board of directors.
His arrest sent a shock wave through the farming community, said county Supervisor Doug Verboon of Hanford.
“The family is a good family and very reputable farmers,” Verboon said. “We’re all in shock and disbelief. We don’t deal with this every day in Hanford. It’s a tragedy.”
He said he went to school with Alcala, knows his brothers, and knows him from Farm Bureau activities.
“We went to the same meetings,” Verboon said.
Alcala’s two children, a boy and a girl, are in college, and “they’re good kids,” he said.
Alcala is being held on a charge of first-degree murder and no bail at the county jail.