Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MOTHER CONVICTED OF PLOTTING WITH
ADULT SON, MURDERING JEWELRY SALESMAN AND STEALING HIS CACHE
*Son awaiting trial on same charges
SANTA ANA – A mother was convicted today of plotting with her adult son and murdering a Santa Ana jewelry salesman while robbing him of his cache. Rebeca Nivarez, 46, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of first degree murder and second degree robbery. She faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison at her sentencing March 11, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-38, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Ricardo Dagoberto Diaz-Nivarez, 25, Santa Ana, faces the same charges as his mother and scheduled for a jury trial May 2, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center.
Mario Hernandez, 78, was a jewelry salesman who would periodically go to Los Angeles to re-stock and return with a few thousand dollars worth of jewelry to sell to people he knew. On the night of March 17, 2005, he told his granddaughter that he needed to get up early the next morning to meet a client. When the victim did not return home that night, his family members became worried and filed a missing person’s report with the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). The family also contacted the victim’s cell phone company and learned the last numbers dialed from his cell phone was to Nivarez’ phone number on March 18, 2005. SAPD initially investigated the case as a missing person’s case.
On March 18, 2005, the defendant robbed and murdered Hernandez, an acquaintance. The defendant’s son, Diaz-Nivarez is also accused of robbing and murdering Hernandez. Nivarez pawned several pieces of jewelry that were forcibly taken from the victim at numerous Santa Ana pawn shops after the murder. The next day, Nivarez asked her daughter to hold some of the jewelry she took from the victim and fled the area.
Approximately a week after his disappearance, Hernandez’s van was found abandoned at Pavion Park in Mission Viejo. Although the van had not been burned, the officers smelled gasoline throughout the interior. As a result of the discovery of Hernandez’s abandoned van, SAPD began investigating the case as a homicide. Hernandez’s body was never recovered.
Police arrested Nivarez after more than a year-long investigation. Diaz-Nivarez is accused of fleeing to Mexico. Diaz-Nivarez was later extradited by Mexican authorities back to Orange County.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.