Lorena Gonzalez Murder: What Happened to Daniel Martinez?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘See No Evil: Silent Witness’ depicts how 23-year-old Lorena Gonzalez, a single mother of three, was brutally murdered in Oxnard, California, in March 2005. The investigators cracked the case with the help of hours of surveillance footage accessed from different locations. If you’re interested in finding out more about the case, including the killer’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve you covered.

How Did Lorena Gonzalez Die?

Lorena Gonzalez was born in Oxnard in Ventura County, California, on February 6, 1982. According to the episode, she had got into trouble with the law as a teenager. But her family recalled how she had worked hard to get her life back on track. She was a single mom to three young children in March 2005. Hence, it was shocking when she went out on the night of March 24, 2005, and never returned. The Oxnard police were called to a crime scene in an Oxnard alley east of the 2700 block of Acacia Street at 5:30 am the following day, on March 25. 

Police sources stated Lorena was only partially clothed, with her pants, shoes, and sweater removed, as she lay in the dirt. Her shirt was pulled up partially over her breasts, while her undergarments were pulled down to her knee. As investigators began processing the scene for evidence, one of the detectives discovered the possible murder weapon — a piece of blood-stained gauze tied to a chain link fence near the crime scene. It had been twisted up and looked like it had broken. Her autopsy report stated she was strangled to death.

Who Killed Lorena Gonzalez?

When the investigators found Lorena Gonzalez’s body in the early morning of March 25, she carried no identification. Detective Mike Young of the Oxnard Police Department said, “I often think about how terrified the victim may have been in her last moments.” But before the detectives could search for the killer, they needed to figure out who the victim was. Therefore, they began examining the evidence and investigating further into the matter.

As the body was being sealed to preserve forensic evidence, one of the investigators noticed a possible clue. She had what appeared to be a recent laceration on her right hand that had some stitches in it. It indicated she had recently paid a visit to an emergency room. As the officers contacted all the local hospitals and paid their emergency rooms a visit with the victim’s photo, one medical personnel remembered her as 23-year-old Lorena, who had come in a few nights earlier.

After identifying the victim, the officers paid her family a visit to learn whether she had enemies or a jealous ex, but nothing came up. The investigators tried to piece together her last known movements the previous night as it might be especially beneficial. It would help them find an extremely critical witness who may have witnessed the crime or provide information about who Lorena was with or saw her leave with right before the death. They interviewed Lorena’s niece, who supplied them with a breakthrough.

According to the niece, Lorena was over at the Snookies bar on South Oxnard Boulevard the previous night. Snookies was a strip joint where exotic dancers performed in the evening hours. Lorena had heard they were hiring wait staff and thought it would be a valuable way to bring in some extra cash. She had applied for a job and was spending time there, having some cocktails. The detectives questioned the manager, and he confirmed she was there. He explained she was in the bar, chatting with a regular named Jeremy Levra.

However, the officers hit a roadblock when the manager informed them they deleted the video surveillance footage every night because of limited storage capacity. The manager failed to restore the video but found some still images from two nights prior. One of the images showed Jeremy living in the Gateway Apartment complex adjacent to the bar. Since he was one of the last persons to see Lorena alive, he automatically became a person of interest in the homicide investigation.

Jeremy readily admitted to being at the bar with Lorena the night before. He said that he was trying to teach her how to play pool. He claimed another man was with them, and they left the bar and went to a liquor store. They returned to Jeremy’s apartment, where they partied till after midnight. The guy didn’t have a place to stay, and Jeremy had invited him to spend the night in his apartment. But Jeremy alleged the man and Lorena left before 1:00 am. The police used the liquor store’s surveillance footage to verify Jeremy’s story.

While the footage showed Jeremy and Lorena at the store around 10:30 pm, they could not find any trace of the third individual. However, the police hit the jackpot when they checked the security footage of Jeremy’s apartment complex. The video footage verified Jeremy’s claims as the officers saw the three of them walking to Jeremy’s apartment. The detectives also affirmed the party ended around 12:45 am, and the unknown male and Lorena were recorded walking out of the apartment complex together.

However, the security footage failed to capture a detailed image of the man, leaving the investigators to look for any other murders or assaults with the same modus operandi. Since strangling with a ligature was relatively rare, the police, fortunately, found a man arrested a few hours after Lorena’s body was discovered. While he had been in the holding facility — in the booking area of the Ventura County jail — he had actually attempted to strangle another inmate with his shoelaces. The perpetrator was identified as Daniel Martinez. 

Where is Daniel Martinez Now?

According to court records, Daniel Martinez was arrested after he assaulted an acquaintance, Alfred Leon, with a deadly weapon by striking him in the head with a beer bottle. It happened when Alfred brought him some food and a beverage several hours after the killing of Lorena. After his arrest, Daniel was accused of trying to strangle another man, Luis Rios, in the Ventura County Jail. In the booking photograph, he happened to be wearing the same jacket that Lorena, the person who left the apartment complex, was wearing.

Though he initially denied having anything to do with the murder, Daniel eventually admitted he was with Lorena during her last hours. After they left Jeremy’s apartment, Daniel said he wanted to have sex with her, but Lorena refused. He had a history of drug use and was high on methamphetamine when he killed Lorena using the gauge on her hand. Daniel was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted rape in October 2007. 

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in January 2008. The court also convicted Daniel for assaulting Alfred and sentenced him to six years, while he received another life sentence for attempting to murder the inmate, Luis Rios, in the Ventura County Jail. Daniel’s defense claimed that he was insane when the attacks occurred, but the jury deemed him to be sane. Today, according to court records, the 36-year-old is serving his sentence at the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison.

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