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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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Mark Rivera

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Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.


Love and Murder in Gangland

Like in any other culture, gang members fall in love. Unfortunately, when their love affairs go wrong the results can be deadly.

May 01, 2009  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

David "Spooky" Alvarez was a Highland Park gang member. His wife had left him and gone to stay with relatives on Stewart Avenue in Baldwin Park. This was in Spooky's eyes an insult to his macho male identity. This act of disrespect obsessed Alvarez, who blamed his ex-wife for ruining what was left of his life. Spooky stewed and plotted his bloody revenge.

On the evening of Sept. 29, 1996, a pretty 22-year-old woman named Trinia Irene Aguirre knocked on the door of Alvarez's ex-wife's Stewart Avenue residence. She claimed that she was alone and had car trouble. She asked to use the telephone and was allowed inside. This was Spooky's "Trojan Horse," and he quickly followed his homegirl Aguirre into the residence. Luckily, Spooky Alverez's ex-wife and their baby were not among the 10 people in the house at the time.

Homegirl Trinia Aguirre was Spooky's new girlfriend. While Spooky covered the hostages, Trinia roughly began tying them up, gagging them, and laying them in a long row, belly down on the living room floor.

Trinia took $3,200 from 32-year-old Roberto Diaz before binding and gagging him. Poor Roberto Diaz, a citizen of Mexico, had saved the money from his menial jobs to buy a car. He lay beside Jose Rojas a 32-year-old gardener, who lived near the Sheriff's Headquarters in Whittier. The Torres sisters, nine-year-old Evelyn and 12-year-old Massiel and six other children were also among the hostages.

Spooky Alvarez paced with agitation up and down the line of his captives. His grand plan of vengeance had not included these events. His ex-wife was not there and with each passing minute the risk of discovery and capture increased. In vain he waited, hoping that she might return. He kicked and punched Diaz and Rojas, trying to find out where his intended victim was or when she might return. Trinia Aguirre threatened the hostages with a large knife and Spooky's agitation was infectious. Trying to prove herself to her homeboy, she anxiously watched for Spooky's cues of what to do. But in her heart she was hoping he would decide to escape.

Thirty minutes became an hour and the tension in the living room continued to mount. Spooky continually threatened the hostages as they lay terrified and weeping on the floor. His anger and his rhetoric escalated. He made threats against his ex-wife and his child. Spooky threatened to murder all of her family.

She could stand it no longer. After over an hour-and-a-half of terror, Trinia began at one end of the line of hostages, she bent down grabbed the first victim by the hair and cut her throat. She then moved to the second victim. Spooky began at his end shooting one after another in the back of the head. He shot Roberto Diaz, Jose Rojas, Evelyn and Massiel Torres. Before they fled Trinia would cut three victims, however all of them would survive. All four of Spooky's victims would not. Either Spooky simply ran out of bullets, or maybe he was reluctant to murder all the small innocent children, but at any rate he finally fled the residence with Trinia.

Following the arrival of the police, a huge dragnet covered Southern California. Even in the violent gang climate of Los Angeles, this massacre was shocking. The victim's families, including Spooky's ex-wife and child, were provided police protection. My unit was assigned to this detail and to tracking down some of the numerous leads Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide investigators received from people wanting the two in custody. The murderous couple was unsafe even in their own gang area.

In November of 1996 Trinia Irene Aguirre turned herself into the FBI. David "Spooky" Alvarez avoided capture until May of 1997 when he tried to crash a vehicle through the border check point into Tijuana. He was taken into custody by Mexican Federal authorizes. This ignited a dispute between Mexican and U.S. law enforcement.

The Mexican Constitution forbids extradition to any country who would seek the death penalty for the prisoner. As a result the extradition was stalemated because then Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti refused to drop the possibility of seeking the death sentence just so he could extradite Spooky.

Consequently, Spooky Alvarez was tried in Mexico for two of the four murders and was sentenced to 90 years in a Mexican prison.

Trinia Aguirre was convicted in the California system of four counts of murder in the first degree, three counts of attempted murder, and four counts of armed robbery. On October 7, 1998, she was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole.

As for the mad loving Spooky Alvarez, I recently learned that a deal was finally struck with Mexico and Spooky was scheduled to be returned to U.S. authorities. Hopefully Spooky's trial will result in justice for his victim's and an end to the ex-wife's family living in fear.

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