Suspect accused of raping, murdering Carlsbad senior
A Mexican national was behind bars in Vista on Wednesday on suspicion of raping and murdering an 84-year-old woman at a North County senior housing complex 8 1/2 years ago.
Alejandro Avalos Fernandez, 33, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday and booked into county jail in connection with the fatal assault on retired psychiatrist Gladys Conrad at Carlsbad-by-the-Sea retirement village, police said.
A friend of Conrad’s found her body on the afternoon of Sept. 1, 2001. She had been attacked and strangled early that morning or late the previous night by an intruder who apparently entered her home through an unlocked door or window.
There was no indication that the victim had ever been in contact with Fernandez, who worked odd jobs in the area and may have been staying with friends there, according to Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain.
Investigators had no solid leads in the case until April 2004, when a national DNA database matched the genetic profile of Conrad’s killer to that of the perpetrator in the attempted rape of a Los Angeles woman in her mid-60s.
Despite that break in the case, the suspect remained unidentified for four years, until a DNA check conducted after Fernandez was arrested on a narcotics charge in Los Angeles allegedly linked him to the San Diego County rape-murder.
Those results came in shortly after Fernandez failed to show up for a court hearing on the drug charges while out on bail.
Carlsbad police obtained a warrant for Fernandez’s arrest in the fall of 2008. Mexican authorities arrested him near his Mexico City home the following January, and U.S. officials began the extradition process.
The suspect was being held without bail at Vista Detention Facility pending an arraignment hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
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