The suspect wanted in connection with the death of a 23-year-old Los Banos man has family in Turlock and could be hiding out in the area according to local law enforcement.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department has identified 19-year-old Salvador Vega Rendon Jr. as the prime suspect in the murder of Felipe Hernandez Bravo Jr. The sheriff’s department has not ruled out the possibility that other individuals were involved in the murder.
Rendon was last seen in the Turlock area. Authorities suspect he could still be in the area or possibly have fled to Mexico.
Felipe Bravo was the youngest of nine children and his family is desperate for answers in his death.
“We are so broken-hearted,” said his sister Flor Bravo. “We feel his loss every day.”
Affectionately called “Fili” by his family and friends, Felipe Bravo was known to be an avid Oakland A’s fan and computer enthusiast. He was a full-time student at Merced College’s Los Banos campus with plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento.
“Our family puts a high value on education,” Bravo said. “We are not a family of violence and gangs.”
On the night of Dec. 31, 2011, Felipe Bravo was with his family celebrating the close of the year. Around 8:30 p.m. he left to visit some friends and that was the last time he was seen alive.
On Jan. 1, his body was found inside the trunk of his car. The car had been left abandoned in Monterey County’s Moss Landing, not too far from a beach.
The cause of death was from a gunshot wound. It’s believed his death occurred in Merced County.
“He was six days shy of his 24th birthday,” Bravo said. “We were planning a barbeque and instead ended up planning his funeral. We buried him the day before his birthday.”
Law enforcement said Felipe Bravo and Rendon were acquainted with each other about two to three months prior to his death.
A possible motive for the killing has not been released.
Rendon is 5 feet, 1 inch tall and 225 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.
A reward of $10,000 is being offered in the case for information that leads to a conviction.
The family will be in the Turlock area today posting flyers about the case with the hope that someone will come forward with a tip.
“This could be their brother or son,” Bravo said. “They’d want that closure and justice like we do. I hope someone will do the right thing. We are not going to give up until he’s caught.”
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at 385-7472.