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Suspect arrested in pregnant woman’s murder
Robert Penaloza Jr
Robert Penaloza, Jr.

The Turlock Police Department has arrested a man suspected of shooting a pregnant woman last year, killing her and her unborn baby.

The suspect in the killings has been identified as Robert Penaloza Jr., 29, of Turlock.

At 1:03 a.m. Aug. 4, 2020, the police department was dispatched to the 500 block of Twentieth Century Boulevard for the report of a shooting.

At the scene officers found Amythest Cortez, 28, of Gustine with a gunshot wound. She was found inside a vehicle.

Cortez was rushed to a nearby hospital and, despite advanced medical care, she and her unborn child both died.

Detectives started working the case and early on identified Penaloza as the prime suspect.

Almost immediately after the shooting Penaloza had fled to Mexico. An arrest warrant was issued for Penaloza on Jan. 19.

Detectives worked with investigators from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as well as the U.S. Marshals Service to locate Penaloza.

“Through relentless investigation, Turlock Police Detectives identified a possible area in Tijuana, Mexico they believed Penaloza was living,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Michael Parmley.

That information was given to police in Mexico, who located Penaloza and arrested him on March 29. He was turned over to the U.S. Marshals and held at a jail in San Diego while his U.S. citizenship was proven. He was then brought back to Turlock on Wednesday and has since been booked in the Stanislaus County Jail. He was booked on the charges of two counts of murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and felon in possession of a firearm.