Synopsis: Ana Mercedes Zamora Diaz, 23, was found murdered on July 18, 1978, in a salvage yard on Grove Street in Nestor.
Diaz was a native of Ecuador. In the beginning of July, 1978, she traveled from Ecuador to Tijuana with a friend, Apolonia (Italia) Zamora Toledo, age 47, whose family in the United States had made arrangements to have both women smuggled across the border. The women were supposed to make the crossing with a trusted family contact, but they missed their connection and ended up falling into the hands of another smuggler known as "Chino El Boxeador."
Around noon on July 4, 1978, the two women, led by "Chino," made the crossing into the United States. Shortly after they crossed, a Border Patrol chopper flying overhead caused the group to scatter, run and hide. "Chino" and Diaz escaped arrest. Toledo tried to hide but she was quickly located and arrested by Border Patrol, and eventually deported back to Ecuador. She never saw Diaz alive again and had no way of knowing what had happened to her, or whether or not Diaz had joined back up with "Chino" afterward.
No one from Diaz's family, or anyone else, ever heard from her after July 4, 1978.
On July 18, 1978, a worker walking through a remote area of a salvage yard at 2426 Grove Street (located near the border in Nestor) found Diaz's badly decomposed body on the ground beneath a water truck. Diaz had been bludgeoned to death and, based on the position of her clothing, sexually assaulted.
"Chino" was identified as Jorge Alvarado Sandoval, a Hispanic male born 10-5-50. Detectives interviewed "Chino" and he denied having any involvement in Diaz's death. In fact, he denied ever meeting her. Sandoval is still a person of interest in this case.
Detectives would like to locate and interview Diaz's friend Apolonia Zamora Toledo, a.k.a. "Italia" Toledo. She is a Hispanic female with a date of birth of 8-26-32 whose husband Jesus Toledo lived in New York at the time of the crime.