A Delano man has been charged with killing five of his infant children, including one he is accused of dumping in slough outside the city of Woodland.
In March of 2007, a fisherman with a bow and arrow was on the banks of a slough between County Road 22 and Interstate 5 east of Woodland. The angler missed his target, but the arrow hit something solid and stuck. When he pulled it up, he discovered it was a box, held down by weights.
Inside was the decomposed body of a baby. A DNA sample was taken but the case quickly grew cold.
“Having an unsolved death of a child in our files has haunted my agency for years,” Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez said Monday before announcing that the baby has been identified as Nikko Lee Perez, born November 8, 1996 in Fresno County.
The boy was never reported missing.
Fast forward a dozen years to October 2019 when a California Department of Justice DNA lab in Richmond matched the boy’s DNA to markers from Paul Allen Perez, an inmate at the Kern Valley State Prison. The identification led to four more murder charges related to the deaths of the baby's siblings.
The California DOJ says the DNA sample from the boy has been run every week for years through its Combined DNA Index System database, or CODIS. But a match would only take place if someone reported him missing and supplied a DNA sample.
Then in October investigators decided to compare the DNA to samples in other parts of the database.
"In this case we were able to — with our missing persons DNA program — take the DNA profile from the infant and search it using a different technique to establish familial relationships across a different index," Barry Miller, Director of the DOJ’s Department of Forensic Services said.
It was the first time DOJ had accessed its criminal index in an attempt to identify someone in its missing person's database.
"We were able to do this search with better results this time," Miller said.
Investigators are not saying if there are any Perez children who lived, nor are they providing information on the mother or mothers of the children.
One sibling, a brother, Kato Allen Perez, was born in 1992 and was “known to be deceased” according to the sheriff’s department. A sister named Mika Alena Perez was born in Merced in 1995; a brother also named Nikko Lee Perez was born in Fresno in 1997, and brother Kato Krow Perez was born in Fresno in 2001.
"All are now believed to have been murdered as infants," Lopez said. "Tragically, the remains of three of these victims have not been located."
Ed Madrano, Chief of the California DOJ, asked anyone with information to come forward.
“We will use every tool in our arsenal to develop new leads to deliver justice to the victims,” Madrano said.
Perez has been in and out of prison since 1990 for crimes including intent to commit a sex offense, vehicle theft, and manufacture/possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The court documents do not specify dates for the deaths of the children but all are believed to have been killed before they reached six months of age. According to records released by CDCR, he would have been out on parole during those periods.
Perez is also charged with torturing the children before they died. A special circumstance of multiple murders is also alleged.
“The science and power of DNA shows that monsters and killers cannot hide forever any longer,” said Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig. He declined to say whether he would seek the death penalty. Last year. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty in California.
The DA’s office and all of the law enforcement agencies in Yolo county formed a cold case task force with a focus on DNA evidence in 2018, after Sacramento County arrested Joseph James DeAngelo as a suspect in the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist cases from the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations also assisted in the Perez investigation.
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