A Winton man suspected of stabbing his wife to death during an argument was being sought Tuesday by Merced County sheriff’s deputies.
Investigators believe Juan Carlos Lopez-Esparza, 26, fled from the couple’s apartment after he stabbed Rocio Fierro with a knife about 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Fierro, 30, and Lopez-Esparza had “recently married,” Undersheriff Jason Goins said.
Investigators declined to comment on the nature of the argument. The knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was located at the apartment and seized by detectives.
A warrant seeking Lopez-Esparza’s arrest on suspicion of murder has been issued.
“The detectives are following up on all leads,” Goins said.
The couple, who lived at the Chablis apartment complex on California Street near Walnut Avenue, have a 5-year-old son who was present during the violence. The child was turned over to relatives, Goins confirmed.
Lopez-Esparza was described by investigators as about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing approximately 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. His only known prior arrest came in 2014 in Fresno when he was booked on suspicion of drunken driving, deputies said.
Fierro’s death is the fourth homicide of 2017 in Merced County and the first to fall within the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Homicides have been reported in Merced, Dos Palos and Los Banos.
Nine homicides were reported countywide in 2016, marking the lowest number of violent death investigations since 2001. Last year’s homicide numbers were a significant departure from the three years prior to 2016, each of which recorded 30 or more homicides.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Office at 209-385-7445.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482