RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A 19-year-old Palm Springs man has been arrested in the murder of a 78-year-old Riverside grandmother.
Sixto Jesus Garcia Pena, who was already in custody at the Imperial County jail for an attempted car theft, was arrested Wednesday by Riverside police detectives on suspicion of murder, home invasion robbery, and burglary. He is being held without bail.
Pena is suspected in the Jan. 6 murder of Denise Irene Wong, who was found dead in her home in the 200 block of East Manfield Street. Family members from out of town had called police and asked them to check on Wong because she lived by herself and was not answering their calls.
Wong was believed to have been murdered during a home invasion robbery hours earlier and her vehicle stolen, according to the preliminary investigation. Her vehicle was determined to be involved in a hit-and-run collision in Indio the same day and impounded, but the suspect in the crash fled the scene. Pena was identified based on evidence collected at the scene and from the vehicle, police said.
Since then, detectives have been pursuing leads to find Pena, who was arrested in Imperial County on Jan. 9 for allegedly trying to steal a car.
In a statement from the family released by Riverside police, Wong was described as a loving mother, grandmother, sister, friend and a good and kind person who lived in Riverside for 50 years.
“We are shocked and heartbroken over her passing,” the statement said. “But, we will always remember her warmth, generosity, and smile. We take heart in knowing she lived a life filled with love, faith, and devotion to her family.”
The investigation into the murder and home invasion continues. Anyone with more information can contact Detective Dave Riderman at (951) 353-7104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.