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Two Charged in Unsolved Murder of El Centro Man Found Burned in 2019

Two El Centro residents have been charged with and arraigned in the nearly year-old unsolved homicide of Raul Esparza, a 30-year-old man whose body was discovered burned in a trash bin in September 2019.

Homicide victim Raul Esparza, 30, of El Centro. | PHOTO COURTESY OF EL CENTRO POLICE DEPARTMENT

Rosita Deborah Torres, 45, and Daniel Alexander Munguia, 39, were both charged with one count each of murder and conspiracy to commit murder by the Imperial County’s District Attorney’s Office on Aug. 24, according to an El Centro Police Department press release sent out Aug. 25.

Torres, who was arrested Aug. 20, was arraigned the day she was charged and is still in custody in Imperial County jail. She was due a bail hearing review Aug. 27. She is currently being held on $1 million bail.

Munguia was to be arraigned on the murder and conspiracy charges Aug. 26. He has been in custody since July 30 on an assault with a deadly weapon charge, according to the El Centro police press release. His bail was $500,000, but that was before his arraignment.

He was picked up by patrol officers July 30 but was already identified as a person of interest in the Esparza killing. The ECPD press release indicates Munguia was questioned on the Esparza murder by investigators the day of his arrest but was only held in county jail on the assault charge.

Torres was taken into custody in her home Aug. 20.

Although they were arrested separately, Torres and Munguia were charged under the same complaint by the DA’s Office.

Murder suspect Rosita Deborah Torres. | IMPERIAL COUNTY JAIL PHOTO

“On or about Sept. 17,” Torres is alleged to have driven to the home of Esparza, where she picked him up, drove him to an apartment and then picked up co-conspirator Munguia, according to the complaint.

Torres then “drove vehicle to railroad tracks,” the complaint states, where Esparza was beaten and killed.

In a previously published media report, Esparza’s body was discovered at 7:10 a.m. Sept. 17, when an El Centro fire crew responded to a report of a trash bin fire near the railroad tracks. The report also listed the location of the bin behind some businesses in the 900 block of Second Street, just east of the tracks.

Murder suspect Daniel Alexander Munguia. | IMPERIAL COUNTY JAIL PHOTO

In addition to the murder and conspiracy charges against both suspects, it appears Munguia is being charged under the three strikes rule for “two or more” previously serious or violent felonies, according to the complaint.

Meanwhile, El Centro police are asking anyone with additional information regarding this murder investigation to contact the department’s investigation bureau or Detective Jeff Malcomb at 760-335-3661 or 760-337-4502. 

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