Corona Couple Held in Death of Nephew

Times Staff Writer

A man and his wife were in custody Tuesday as police investigated the suspected child-abuse slaying of their 11-year-old nephew and came across the remains of a second, more deteriorated body at the couple’s home.

Raul Ricardo Sarinana, 38, was arrested after calling police just before 2 p.m. Monday. He told police that “he had hurt the boy, and that the boy may be dead,” Corona police Sgt. Jerry Rodriguez said.

Officers found the boy’s battered body inside the couple’s duplex unit at 1110 S. Belle Ave. He had suffered blunt trauma injuries and had been dead perhaps “a day or two at most,” said Corona police Sgt. Neil Reynolds. The boy’s name was not released.


Sarinana and his wife, Cathy Lynn Sarinana, 28, were arrested on suspicion of murder. Their two children, a 2-year-old girl and a 13-month-old boy, were put in protective custody.

After questioning the pair, police returned for an additional search of the duplex Tuesday and found the second set of remains concealed in the carport just after 3 p.m. They brought in crews to rip up concrete with jackhammers shortly afterward, neighbors said.

The remains appeared to be those of a person whose death occurred well before that of the 11-year-old boy, police said. They are believed to be those of a “small person,” Rodriguez said. He did not disclose, however, whether they were those of a child. Nor did he give a probable gender. Examiners will have to use dental records to identify the body, he said, adding that investigators have some leads on an identity, though he did not elaborate.

As of Tuesday, investigators planned to seek homicide charges against the couple, Reynolds said. Sarinana was being booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside late Tuesday. His wife, who had been taken into custody at the Corona police jail, is expected to be transferred to Presley, police said.

Rodriguez said the Sarinanas had been taking care of their nephew for at least a year. The boy’s mother, a Los Angeles County resident, had served time in prison and recently completed parole, authorities said.

Neighbors described the Sarinana family as reclusive, and said they had lived in the front unit of the single-story, beige duplex since October.


Several said that they rarely saw the couple’s 11-year-old nephew, and that he did not mingle with a number of children about his age who play together in the neighborhood.

At least one neighboring family had expressed concern for the boy’s welfare, said Jessica Martinez, 17, who lives down the street.

At a birthday party at the Sarinanas’ home, Martinez noticed that the boy had a black eye and bruises. Cathy Lynn Sarinana said that her nephew had been in a fight at school.

But later, Martinez said, she and a cousin encountered the boy at a store, and his face bore more severe-looking bruises. Martinez’s family volunteered to take him in, she said.

The boy’s aunt, however, declined the offer, she said.

Corona police said they had been to the house at least once before, but did not specify the nature of the visit. A neighbor said she had seen police cars at the house several times.

On Tuesday, officials closed off the carport with blue tarps to conduct their investigation, leaving few visible signs of the home’s occupants except for a small Santa Claus decoration in the frontyard. Late Tuesday evening, teams in hazardous-material protective suits began removing green metal drums from the property.


The boy’s mother was notified of the death Tuesday; investigators have not found his father, police said.

An autopsy on the boy is expected to be conducted Thursday, police said.

It was the second homicide involving a child in Riverside County this week. On Sunday, 11-year-old Maximiliano Miranda was killed by shots fired into his Riverside home. Police are looking for a suspect who is described as a 30- to 35-year-old Latino male weighing about 210 pounds with a mustache and hair about 3 inches long.

Times staff writer Jill Leovy contributed to this report.