Business partner arrested in connection with couple's stabbing death

October 9, 2009 

William and Clara Cisneros

MERCED SUN-STAR

A double homicide suspect sought in the case of two bodies found inside a Mission Avenue home last week is in custody, the Merced County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thursday.

Julio Cesar Guevara Bonilla, 52, was taken into custody by officers with the Kenner Police Department in Jefferson Parish, La., around 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Undersheriff Bill Blake.

The bodies were discovered Sept. 30 at 440 Mission Ave. The bodies are believed to be those of William Cisneros, 82, and his wife Clara Cisneros, 43, who lived at the house.

While Bonilla was at first sought as a person of interest, his status was upgraded to a suspect this week. A warrant for his arrest was issued Tuesday, according to Sheriff's Detective Chuck Hale. Although Hale didn't provide a motive for the killings, he's confident Bonilla is responsible. "I wouldn't have offered a warrant if I didn't think so," Hale said.

Hale didn't elaborate about the circumstances of Bonilla's arrest in Louisiana. He said detectives had been in the San Bernardino County city of Victorville this week, following up on leads in the case. Hale did not elaborate on what those leads were.

Bonilla was a business partner of the couple and lived in their home.

An extradition hearing is scheduled to take place in Jefferson Parish today, to discuss when Bonilla will be sent to Merced County, Blake said.

Members of the Cisneros family were elated after hearing news of the arrest. Anita Diaz, William Cisneros' niece, said she was relieved to hear the news, particularly because her family has many questions, but few answers. "Unfortunately, nothing will bring my uncle back, but now we can have some closure," Diaz said. "We're all glad that he's been caught."

Diaz described her uncle, whom she refers to as "Uncle Willie," as a hard-working man, who was born in Fresno and moved to Merced around 1948. As a young man he started his own landscaping company -- a business which remained in operation up until his death.

William Cisneros' first wife died in the 1970s from diabetes. He met his second wife, Clara, at Su Casa restaurant in Merced. The couple were married during the early 1990s, Diaz said.

Although William Cisneros had no children of his own, Diaz said he opened his home to many family members and helped support their children.

The bodies were discovered by animal control agents after the U.S. Postal Service reported the couple hadn't picked up their mail for some time. Several underfed dogs were on the property, according to sheriff's investigators.

Investigators said the bodies had been stabbed multiple times. Because the bodies were so badly decomposed, investigators have said more testing is needed to fully confirm their identities.

They were found lying on the floor of their laundry room. The body believed to be Clara Cisneros was covered with a blanket, investigators said.

A fund at Wells Fargo has been set to collect donations for the Cisneros' funeral, Diaz said. The account number is 6860910535.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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