Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department detectives have arrested two Modesto residents in connection with the killing of a Merced woman at a Highway 99 rest stop in Turlock in February of last year.
At noon Wednesday, detectives arrested 42-year-old Bryan Dean Small on suspicion of homicide and 65-year-old Cheryl Ruth Liberty on suspicion of being an accessory. Both were persons of interest in the death of 41-year-old Christina Cardoza during the initial investigation, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department. Small had been interviewed and released.
Just after 8 p.m. Feb. 26, 2014, emergency medical personnel responded to the northbound rest stop on Highway 99 near Turlock. They provided medical aid to Cardoza, who died at the scene.
Law enforcement was called, and detectives learned that Cardoza had suffered an injury. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma to her upper body.
The investigation uncovered that Small and Cardoza had been in an altercation in the rural area of Merced County prior to their arrival at the rest stop. “Detectives developed evidence that Small had killed Cardoza and Liberty had helped him after the victim had been killed,” the news release said.
Detectives obtained arrest warrants Wednesday for Small and Liberty and found them near a residence in Modesto. They were arrested and booked at the Stanislaus County Jail.
Anyone with information on the investigation is urged to call Detective Gregory Buck at (209) 525-7103. An anonymous tip can be left by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.
People also can email tips at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus the message and be eligible for a cash reward