CARLSBAD – A now-solved murder case that shocked the entire community has captured the interest of a film producer, and is soon to be featured on the show “Cold Blood,” which airs on the Investigation Discovery channel.
“This is the exact story of what good police work is — they caught the bad guy,” said Jacqueline Bynon, the show’s executive producer.
The program will show police efforts to solve the Sept. 1, 2001 sexual assault and murder of 84-year-old retired psychiatrist Gladys Conrad in her Carlsbad retirement home.
The case was one of firsts for the police department and San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, ultimately capturing the suspect, Alejandro Avalos Fernandez, 34, through DNA matching and extradition.
“It was the first case out of our office based partially on DNA evidence,” said Sylvia Tenorio, deputy district attorney, county of San Diego. It’s also the first case where a Mexican national was extradited back to San Diego, said Lt. Jay Eppel of the Carlsbad Police Department, one of the local authorities interviewed for the show.
Police obtained the suspect’s DNA from Conrad’s body, but there were no solid leads as to the killer’s identity. In 2004, police acquired matching DNA from an attempted rape of a Los Angeles woman who was able to fight off and flee from the suspect.
Fernandez was later arrested in 2007 on drug charges, though he was released from custody before his DNA was entered into a database and matched to the two crimes. Fernandez made his way back to Mexico before authorities could arrest him for the murder and attempted rape.
After the DNA matching was made, Tenorio said the district attorney’s office was not sure if Mexico would accept the evidence and extradite Fernandez.
But they did.
Tenorio handles international and domestic extraditions for the DA’s office, and said that before 2008 there were not any formal extraditions from Mexico.
“Now we’re extraditing on a regular basis,” she said.
Fernandez is now seen as the “poster boy” for extradition relations and marks the beginning of great progress between the two countries.
“My office became actively involved in 2008,” Tenorio said, and added that since then, there have been nine formal returns, and six who are currently in custody.
She said the extradition process can be lengthy and, that from the time she is presented the case until an extradition happens, it may take between one to two years.
Eppel said that the show’s producers approached the department in April, saying that that the Conrad case fits the types of cases that are featured on the program.
The show is expected to air this fall.