Cold case files: Tustin PD reinvestigates brutal stabbing of prostitute
The only theories that exist are the broad, sweeping kind.
How a Santa Ana prostitute ended up brutally murdered and her body abandoned at a Tustin construction site has been a mystery for the Tustin PD for 26 years.
“I don’t have any theories other than maybe something happened with someone she picked up or maybe it was drug-related somehow,” said Det. Pam Hardacre. “It’s so wide open.”
Wide open is a good thing to be when approaching cold cases like the November 1990 murder of 26-year-old Belinda Lou Carrasquillo.
Investigating the unsolved murder is part of an effort Tustin PD is making to re-examine many of its cold cases.
“This is for us just to have a fresh set of eyes to take a look,” Hardacre said.
Little is known about the night Carrasquillo was last seen — Nov. 29, 1990.
The 5-foot-4, dark-haired woman worked the streets of Santa Ana as a prostitute. Her rap sheet included prior arrests on drug and petty theft charges, Hardacre said.
Witnesses told police they last saw her when she got into a green station wagon, but nobody could say if the driver was a man or woman.
The next day, at about 6:30 a.m., a contractor showed up to a work site at Jamboree Road and Edinger Avenue and found Carrasquillo’s body.
It appeared she was sexually assaulted before being repeatedly stabbed with a large knife, Hardacre said.
Tire marks and bruising on the inside of her arm indicated Carrasquillo also had been run over after the slaying.
Over the next year, Tustin Police Detectives aggressively investigated the case.
Officers questioned know prostitutes, hoping someone could offer up information on the person Carrisquillo left with that night.
That’s how detectives developed some of their information — some of the women police arrested remembered her, but to others she was a stranger, Hardacre said.
Police interviewed her family who told investigators they last saw Carrasquillo two days before she was killed when she came home to ask for money.
Detectives at the time were also told this was possibly related to a dispute between the victim and a local drug dealer, but this could never be confirmed.
“The report said this (drug dispute) happened about a month prior to the murder, so this could’ve been a set up to kill her,” Hardacre said.
Police also collected DNA found at the crime scene, but so far that has not led to anything.
“It was re-run in 1997, but there were no hits,” Hardacre said.
The veteran detective will now look to find new witnesses and also re-connect with those who were previously questioned in hope something new will be uncovered.
“Sometimes people don’t want to talk at the time because maybe they’re involved in something they shouldn’t be,” Hardacre said. “Maybe they’ve changed their life or realized that this case hasn’t gone away, or maybe they feel guilty that they never said anything.”
Hardacre said she hopes her work will uncover a new detail, fact, or clue that might lead to closure in the case.
“This homicide isn’t going to go away,” she said. “No matter what her past is, she will not be forgotten.”
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Detective Hardacre at 714-573-3248.