DA LaHood: Indictments tie alleged ‘serial killer' to four deaths, sexual assault

Johnny Joe Avalos faces aggravated sexual assault, four capital murder charges

SAN ANTONIO – Indictments released Tuesday allege a San Antonio man killed four women in the span of five months.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said the new indictments take into account that accused killer Johnny Joe Avalos, 29, is charged with capital murder in a series of four separate murders from Dec. 2014 to April 2015.

Avalos is charged in the deaths of Natalie Chavez, 15; Rosemary Perez, 28; Celia Ann Lopez, 29; and Genevieve Ramirez, 46.

“That’s what we call serial murder enhancement. The statute allows for that,” LaHood said.

He said if they had occurred all at one time, it would be mass murder, but the district attorney said that doesn’t change the fact his office will seek the death penalty.

Avalos has been in custody since his arrest in April 15, 2015 initially on municipal court warrants.

According to the Criminal District Attorney’s Office, later that day, after a warrant was run on Avalos for sexual assault, CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) came back with a hit on Avalos.  

Two indictments detail the four murders, alleging that Avalos asphyxiated each victim with his hand and arm, also using plastic bags on three of them.

LaHood said some, but not all of the women, are alleged to have been involved in prostitution.

“But that’s irrelevant,” LaHood said. “Every life matters in this office and there’s value to that.”

He said the indictments demonstrate that by holding someone accountable in these cases.

Related stories

“Those victims’ voices and their families’ voices need to be heard in our community,” LaHood said. “That’s reflected in these indictments.”

LaHood said Avalos will have a scheduling hearing December 19 so the judge can set future hearings or the trial itself.

He said it’s likely there will be two trials, each handling two cases listed in both indictments.

The DA's Office plans to seek the death penalty against Avalos.

He is scheduled to make a court appearance Dec. 19 in the 437th District Court, where a judge can set future hearings or trial dates.

Avalos Indictments.pdf by David Ibanez on Scribd