CASTRO VALLEY — The man suspected of killing a 16-year-old girl in Castro Valley has another title: one of California's most wanted fugitives.
Miguel Angel Nunez Castaneda, 30, is accused of killing Yesenia Nungaray Becerra — who for years was known simply as Castro Valley's Jane Doe — and dumping her body behind a Castro Valley restaurant in 2003.
He is one of 14 men on the state Department of Justice's most wanted list, all are accused of such crimes as murder, rape and kidnapping. Another Sheriff's Office suspect, Jose Manuel Hernandez, is also on the list. The 21-year-old is wanted in connection with a San Lorenzo homicide.
Castaneda still eludes capture two and half years after he was named a suspect in the killing of Becerra, who was 16 at the time of her death. He is believed to be hiding in a cave outside Yahualica, Mexico, said Sgt. Scott Dudek of the Alameda County Sheriffs Office. Dudek said his office is working with the Mexican government to extradite Castaneda, but the process is a slow one.
Castaneda is one of five men wanted by the Sheriff's Office who are believed to be in Mexico.
Castaneda had worked at the Castro Valley restaurant behind which Becerra's body was found, stuffed into a duffel bag. Becerra had moved from Mexico to Hayward in March 2003 and lived with Castaneda. Court documents suggest the motive for the killing may have been unrequited love.
Becerra, whose unclaimed body remained nameless for three years, captured the hearts of Alameda County investigators who came to know her as their "little girl." A tip in 2006 led detectives to Yahualica, Mexico, a town about 70 miles north of Guadalajara, where they hoped to find someone who may have known or seen the girl. There they found her mother and finally identified the girl.
The DOJ's inclusion of Castaneda's name on the most wanted list reminds the public in California and in Yahualica that investigators have not forgotten about this case.
"We are trying," Dudek said. "We still care."
Contact Sophia Kazmi at 925-847-2122. Follow her at Twitter.com/sophiakazmi.