Location: Newport, Oregon/Earlimart

Incident Date: August 6, 2018/ October 12, 2018

Case Number: 18CR66418

City: Newport, Oregon/ Earlimart

Posted by: Media Relations

Earlimart Man Arrested for Murder, Arson in Oregon

On August 6, 2018, a fire broke out at a hotel in Newport, Oregon. An adult man, who was in a different hotel room, was critically burned and ended up dying from his injuries. The fire was determined to be arson and Jonathon Leo Mendez Gonzalez from Earlimart was identified as a person of interest.

Detectives in Newport, Oregon reached out to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and requested help. Over the past two months, Detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office helped Oregon Detectives with the homicide investigation. Through follow-up investigation, Violent Crimes Detectives located Mendez in Earlimart and he was interviewed by Oregon Detectives regarding the fire.

On October 4, Oregon Detectives obtained a two-million dollar arrest warrant for Gonzalez and contacted the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for further assistance on the investigation.  On October 12, Detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Violent Crimes Unit and CATTCH Fugitive Apprehension Team found Gonzalez at a home in Earlimart and took him into custody on the warrant. Gonzalez was transported and booked at the Adult Pre-Trial Facility and is currently awaiting extradition to Oregon.

He faces charges of Murder, Arson in the First & Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First and Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Assault in the Third Degree, Criminal Mischief in the First & Second Degree, Theft in the First Degree and Reckless Burning.

This case remains under investigation and anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Kyle Kalender the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department at (559) 733-6211 or anonymous information about this incident can be reported via Tipnow email: tcso@tipnow.net text or voicemail at 559-725-4194 or download the Tipnow app for Android or Apple phones.