Fugitive, one of LAPD’s most wanted, is caught; cops saw him on Facebook
A fugitive connected to four killings and considered one of the Los Angeles Police Department’s most wanted criminals has been caught, federal authorities announced.
Eduardo Rodriguez, 35, was captured by U.S. marshals on Thursday in the 3500 block of Farnham Place in Riverside, where he had been living under an assumed identity for five years. He has been wanted by the LAPD since 2003.
Rodriguez was second in command of the Toonerville street gang when he was indicted in 2003 on four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He worked under Timothy McGhee, who has since been convicted of three murders but is believed to have killed at least a dozen people.
Rodriguez was wanted in connection with the 2001 shooting death of Margie Mendoza, 26, a mother of three who was gunned down in Atwater Village while sitting in her boyfriend’s car.
Information on the deaths tied to the other three murder indictments was not immediately released.
During his time on the lam, authorities say, Rodriguez had been living under an assumed identity working as a carpenter in Riverside. He had a fiancee, visited Las Vegas and ventured to Griffith Observatory, all the while going unnoticed, said U.S. Marshal’s Service Deputy Laura Vega.
Rodriguez had twice been questioned by police in connection with homicides but was released for insufficient evidence.
When he was finally indicted, he fled.
Los Angeles police lost Rodriguez’s trail when he was believed to have fled to Mexico.
The case was reignited last year, when, according to Vega, Glendale police asked Los Angeles detectives if they could try and find Rodriguez because of their familiarity with Toonerville gang members and their associates. The Toonerville gang claims Glendale, northeast Los Angeles and Tujunga as it territory.
One of Glendale’s detectives, who was on light duty because of an injury, found Rodriguez’s picture through his associates’ Facebook accounts, Vega said. When Rodriguez’s images showed up on his fiancee’s Facebook account, they tracked him down to the Riverside address and began monitoring the house.
On Thursday night, when Rodriguez left for work, authorities closed in.
“You could see that moment when he knew what it was about and he just gave up,” Vega said. “He saw the cars, he gets his hands up…he still had his tattoos.”
Neither Rodriguez’s fiancee nor her family had any idea he was a wanted man, Vega said.
“She seemed genuinely pretty shocked.”
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @JosephSerna
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.