FREMONT (CBS SF) — Police in Fremont on Thursday announced the arrest this week of a suspect in a 28-year-old cold case homicide investigation who was found thanks to new DNA technology.
The arrest on Tuesday of 52-year-old suspect Russell Anthony Guerrero in Arizona by Fremont police detectives was the result of nearly three decades of diligent work on the unsolved December 1990 murder of Fremont resident Jack Upton.
Fremont police opened a missing person’s investigation regarding the then 30-year-old Upton on December 17, 1990, when it was reported that he had not shown up for work for multiple days. Officers attempted contact Upton at his residence at 38780 Tyson Lane, where he was found deceased. Evidence inside Upton’s apartment led officers to believe he was a victim of a brutal homicide.
Authorities also determined that Upton’s vehicle, a 1985 Nissan 300 ZX, had been stolen from the apartment complex’s parking lot. As the investigation continued, Fremont police searched for the vehicle and released photographs of the car to the public.
On December 24, 1990, the stolen vehicle was found abandoned in a parking lot of a mall located in Thousand Oaks, approximately 350 miles from Upton’s apartment. Fremont police detectives and CSI’s went to Thousand Oaks to collect and process the vehicle for evidence, where authorities found blood samples inside the stolen Nissan that were analyzed and determined to be a match with blood discovered inside Upton’s apartment that belonged to an unknown person believed to be the homicide suspect.
Once more sophisticated DNA testing became available, the suspect’s blood was tested and a full male DNA profile was created. That DNA profile was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), but it did not match any person already in the system.
Over the next 28 years, several Fremont police detectives continuously worked on the Jack Upton homicide case, with several new leads being developed and investigated over that time. Three years ago, the Fremont Police Department created a Cold Case Homicide detective position to primarily focus on investigating and solving unsolved homicides and missing persons.
In April of last year, new DNA technology was brought to the forefront with the arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer. Fremont police detectives reached out to Parabon NanoLabs — the lab which assisted in the Golden State Killer case — and requested help in the Upton homicide case. Parabon NanoLabs took the DNA profile of the suspect in the Jack Upton murder and processed it, comparing it to the existing genealogical DNA profiles the lab was able to access.
That search, combined with a completely fresh look at the evidence in the case, produced a potential suspect in Guerrero, who would have been 25 years old at the time of the crime. Prior to the new DNA analysis, Guerrero had never been connected with the homicide. Guerrero’s whereabouts were researched and he was found to be a current resident of Tempe, Arizona. In early October 2018, Fremont police detectives traveled to Arizona, conducting physical surveillance on Guerrero and obtaining a DNA sample from him for comparison. When Guerrero’s DNA was compared to the blood evidence located in Upton’s apartment and vehicle, it was found to be a match.
Last week, the entire case was presented to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Guerrero was charged with the murder of Jack Upton and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On Tuesday, Fremont police detectives arrested Guerrero Chandler, Arizona. With help from the Tempe Police Department and Chandler Police Department apprehension teams, search warrants were served on Guerrero, his residence and his vehicle.
Fremont police detectives are working with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office regarding the extradition of Guerrero back to California for prosecution in the Jack Upton homicide. Anyone with information about the case is asked to please call the Fremont Police Department’s Investigative Unit at 510-790-6900. Anonymous tips can be sent by texting TIP FREMONTPD followed by your message to 888-777, or via the web at https://local.nixle.com/tip/alert/6216337.
Interested parties who want to learn more about and view current ongoing cold case homicide investigations can do so at www.fremontpolice.org/ColdCase.