Cold Case files: Police seek leads in 1982 stabbing death at Tustin warehouse

By Elysse James

A man who could “raise the laughter in any room at any time” was stabbed to death in his brother’s janitorial supply warehouse on April 22, 1982, and police are still seeking clues.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, 29, moved from Cuba to join his family in the United States about a year before his death, Tustin Police Det. Ryan Newton said.

Cold case file binders and the handprint of Juan Carlos Gonzalez, who was stabbed to death in Tustin on April 22, 1982 at his brother’s janitorial supply warehouse. Photo by Behind the Badge OC staff

When the Gonzalez family emigrated in the 1970s, Juan Carlos was not allowed to leave Cuba because he had just turned 15 and was eligible for the military, Newton said.

He was finally able to join his parents, three brothers, and two sisters in La Mirada at age 28. The family gathered several times a week for dinner and was a tight-knit group, Newton said.

Gonzalez worked at G&G Building Maintenance, his brother Raul’s janitorial company, cleaning office buildings at night, Newton said. He’d go to the warehouse to collect supplies, drive to the office buildings and clean them, and then return the supplies to the warehouse, which was in the 15000 block of Red Hill Avenue, across from what was then the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station.

“He worked really hard for his brother,” Newton said.

The handprint of Juan Carlos Gonzalez, who was stabbed to death in Tustin on April 22, 1982 at his brother’s janitorial supply warehouse.
Photo by Behind the Badge OC staff

Gonzalez was fit and had military experience, so it would have taken someone strong to overpower him, Newton said. Police hypothesize that he possibly knew the attacker. A coworker said Gonzalez was known to pick up hitchhikers.

Gonzalez was acclimating to life in the United States and was taking English lessons at Cerritos College. He was gregarious and could “make friends instantly,” his brother Mark told Newton.

“The family is looking for closure,” Newton said. “They were excited he was here in the United States. He got taken away from them… they would like to know why.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Det. Ryan Newton at 714-573-3249.

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