Two years ago, Freddy Perez-Rodas shot his wife three times in the chest and burned down their home. The slain woman, Officer Laura Perez of San Diego’s Escondido Police Department, was just 25 years old. Initially, Perez-Rodas told authorities the fire was accidental, and that his wife was still inside. Police soon determined the cause of the fire to be arson, however, and couldn’t locate any bodies inside what remained of the home.
Using information obtained from Perez-Rodas, police eventually located Officer Perez’s body, alongside $85,000 in cash. Perez-Rodas hid his wife’s remains in a storage unit in the Moreno Valley of San Diego.
Last year, a jury convicted Perez-Rodas of killing his wife. He was sentenced on Dec. 4 and received 49 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, arson of an inhabited dwelling and use of a gun causing death.
Perez-Rodas and Officer Laura had one child together, their daughter Suzeth. Officers from Laura’s Police Department have vowed to be a part of their Suzeth’s life, and have honored their slain colleague and benefited her daughter by raising over $12,000 for a trust fund in her name.
Laura had been on the force for mere months before her murder. Her superiors described her as a “rising star” within the department. In addition to the trust fund, members of the Escondido Police Department vowed to put a greater focus on the issue of domestic violence.
It appears they’ve kept their promise.
Escondido Police teamed up with U.S. Marshals to serve over 100 warrants. They dubbed the two-day sweep “Operation Laura,” and the effort was certainly impressive. It involved over 110 officers from the state and federal levels. Their target? High-risk fugitives wanted for everything from weapons violations to armed robbery, narcotics distribution, and of course—domestic violence.
“It was important for us to recognize her and more importantly to recognize domestic violence is an important problem in our county,” said Lt. Greg Kohler.
In total, some 30 fugitives were arrested.
According to NBC San Diego:
“As a result of the operation, a number of felony and misdemeanor warrants were closed, five new drug cases were opened and one person was arrested, accused of possessing stolen property.”
Just how serious of a problem is domestic violence in the United States?
“There’s a statistic out there that shocks a lot of people, but it’s absolutely true,” says Brendan Lawson, a San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney. “Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten. That’s a pretty powerful concept to think about. I think a lot of people don’t realize how sadly common it is.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.” They add: “During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”
Pertinent to Officer Laura’s case, NCADV cites this sobering statistic: “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent.”