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Two more arrests in Hilmar homicide investigation
Merced Sheriff 2

The Merced County Sheriff's Office has arrested two more people in connection with a fatal shooting in Hilmar in September 2021 that resulted in the death of Jasper Gray.

Gray was shot to death outside a restaurant in the 8100 block of Lander Avenue in Hilmar at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 19.

Detectives with the sheriff's office were able to identify two suspects in the shooting — Dominick Rufo and Brandy Bettencourt-Costa, both of Hilmar.

After a three-month-long investigation, it was determined that Rufo and Bettencourt had fled to Baja California, Mexico. Merced Sheriff’s investigators worked closely with the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Taskforce and the U.S. Marshals Mexico Investigative Liaison Team out of the Southern District of California in coordination with Mexican authorities to locate Rufo and Bettencourt and they were taken into custody without incident and brought back to Merced County.

Preliminary hearings held in Merced County Superior Court ended with Rufo being held over for trial on charges of homicide and illegal discharge of a firearm. The ruling stated there was not enough cause to hold Bettencourt-Costa on the homicide charge, but there was enough to charge her with assault with a firearm.

Recently, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dana Julien Hayes and Brittany Bettencourt, for accessory and conspiracy charges.

It was determined that Hayes and Bettencourt aided Bettencourt-Costa and Rufo in their evasion of law enforcement after the homicide occurred.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate this crime. If you have any information about this incident, contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Bureau at (209) 385-7472.