The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department held a lengthy press conference on Monday to announce a major development in their investigation into the suspected murder of a Catholic bishop. The suspect, identified as Carlos Medina, is apparently the husband of a woman who worked as a housekeeper at Bishop David O’Connell’s residence—and authorities believe Medina also did work at the Hacienda Heights home as a handyman and had talked about being owed money.
What investigators found first
Sheriff Robert Luna said that at approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday deputies responded to a call of a person not breathing.
The bishop was pronounced dead at the scene, and authorities learned who he was soon thereafter, the sheriff said.
The victim was apparently shot at least once in the upper body while in his bedroom, the sheriff said.
“At the time the cause of death was unclear to our detectives but it appeared suspicious in nature,” Luna said.
A crucial tip
By early Sunday morning, it was determined that this was a murder case. Detectives discovered surveillance video showing a “dark, compact SUV” in the bishop’s driveway. The vehicle stayed at the residence for a short period of time. Medina, of Torrance, became a person of interest.
A “concerned” tipster informed investigators that Medina had been acting strangely and irrationally, and that he had made comments about the bishop owing him money.
Medina is the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper and had “previously done work around the residence,” the sheriff said. Medina drives a similar SUV as the one seen on surveillance video.
Unfortunately for detectives, Luna said, Medina was not immediately within reach; he left Los Angeles County and was believed to be in the Central California area.
In the meanwhile, a search warrant for his residence was obtained. Then, early Monday morning, detectives learned Medina had returned.
“At approximately 2 a.m. this morning, we were alerted by a community member that Medina had returned to his residence,” the sheriff said.
Luna said that Medina would not surrender. As his refusal to come out of his residence continued for hours, the sheriff’s department took the step of modifying the search warrant to allow a tactical team to enter the suspect’s home.
“The original search warrant for his residence was amended by detectives, which enabled our special enforcement bureau to enter the location to arrest Medina and search his home,” Luna said. The ensuing tactical operation yielded Medina’s surrender after 8 a.m. Monday.
Two firearms and “other evidence” possibly linking Medina to the murder were recovered from his home, Luna said. The sheriff had said earlier that a firearm was not recovered at the crime scene and that there was no sign of forced entry to the bishop’s residence.
He was “loved”
Luna said that although he never met O’Connell, it’s clear to him that the bishop was “loved.” He based that on the sheer number of calls received over the previous 48 hours from those who knew the high-ranking member in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
“This man, this bishop made a huge difference in our community. He was loved,” the sheriff said. “It’s very sad that we’re gathered here today to talk about his murder in this way. He’s been a pillar in our community, known as a peacemaker.”
The sheriff credited his homicide detectives for solving the “tragic” murder, going sleepless to pursue an investigation that was “nonstop work.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of them as I’m reporting their good work to all of you today,” Luna said.
Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said in a statement Monday that the city has lost “a good friend.”
“Out of his love for God, he served this city for more than forty years, as an immigrant from Ireland. And I would say that among the many things that I admired in him in his life and ministry was that he was fluent in Spanish with an Irish accent,” Gomez said. “Every day he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant, and to all those living on society’s margins.”
“He was a good priest and a good bishop, and a man of peace. And we are very sad to lose him,” the archbishop concluded, also expressing his gratitude to the sheriff’s department for Medina’s capture and their “professionalism and sensitivity in what is a sad and painful moment for all of us.”
Where Medina is now
Jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Medina was booked and remains held at LASD’s Lennox Station. The bail amount is $2,000,000.
Notably, the jail records say he is 61 years old. The sheriff said that he’s 65.
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