LOS ANGELES — A California man has been charged with murder and arson after killing his victim, dismembering the body and carrying it aboard a train in a suitcase before burning the remains, authorities said.
Investigators believe Valentino Gutierrez killed the victim, who has not been identified, on Jan. 31 in an abandoned restaurant in Pasadena, according to prosecutors. The victim’s remains were found early the next morning outside a home improvement store about eight miles away after discovering a suitcase that was set ablaze.
After firefighters opened the suitcase, they found dismembered body parts, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a weekly police commission meeting.
Detectives later found surveillance footage that showed a man with a similar suitcase riding a light-rail train, which led them to Pasadena, Beck said. Several homeless people in Pasadena identified Gutierrez as the suspect, Beck said.
Gutierrez’s significant other has been reported missing, Beck told the commissioners. Coroner’s officials have been unable to identify the burned remains, or confirm whether the person is a man or a woman.
Gutierrez, 56, made an initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon, but did not enter a plea, prosecutors said. The name of a defense attorney was not immediately known.