A third suspect in the stabbing murder of an 18-year-old Taco Bell worker in Prunedale almost nine years ago has been arrested on the Arizona-Mexico border, Monterey County sheriff's deputies said Wednesday.
Raul M. Sandoval Jr., 26, was arrested about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the border crossing in San Luis, Ariz., on a homicide warrant issued after the Dec. 12, 2004, slaying of 18-year-old Brenden Tsukimura.
"For eight years, I have been thinking about this case and where they were going to catch him," said Russ Tsukimura, Brenden's father. "It is very exciting news."
Tsukimura said the District Attorney's Office informed him of the arrest Wednesday, telling him that Sandoval turned himself in to Border Patrol agents.
A Sheriff's Office press release said county investigators were flying to Arizona to follow up on Sandoval's arrest.
Sandoval was the last of three suspects in the killing at the Prunedale Shopping Center fast-food restaurant. He was originally released after questioning, but investigators later determined he was an accomplice in what was a botched robbery.
Investigators worked with the U.S. Marshals Office in San Francisco and San Jose in the long hunt for Sandoval, who fled Monterey County a few days after the killing.
His photo was twice aired on "America's Most Wanted" and was on the show's website.
Two other young men, Gabriel Alcaraz and Cain Beltran, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms years ago for the slaying.
Alcaraz, who confessed to the crime, received 25 years in prison in a plea bargain to voluntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy.
Alcaraz was 18 at the time, and Beltran, a former high school classmate of the victim, was 20. Beltran was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder after he blamed the killing on schizophrenia and an imaginary man named "Chosen."
Beltran stabbed Tsukimura to death in what Alcaraz confessed was a robbery attempt. Alcaraz, who led investigators to a spot along Crazy Horse Canyon Road where they hid their bloody clothing, said Sandoval was their driver. Sandoval was 18 at the time.
At his March 2006 sentencing, Alcaraz said he would carry the weight of the crime on his shoulders the rest of his life.
The victim's father said he received some satisfaction from the long-awaited arrest.
"I will admit that the final closure will come when he's behind bars," Tsukimura said.
Since the death of his son, who played football and track at North Monterey County High School, Tsukimura has given 19 scholarships totaling $18,000 to North County students involved in track from a fund established in his son's memory.
Recipients are very aware of the scholarship's meaning, he said.
"My wife and I go to every track meet and take pictures of the kids," said Tsukimura, a dental technician. They also bring snacks for the track athletes.
Tsukimura plans to carry out the scholarship tradition as "long as I have money."
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or email@example.com.