August 24, 2023 - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced on Wednesday that Gabriel Sean Esparza has been charged in the kidnapping, attempted rape and murder of 19-year-old Andrea Vasquez, and the attempted murder of her boyfriend in Whittier.
“Our hearts ache for the devastating loss of a young life. The heinous nature of this crime, involving the murder, kidnapping and attempted rape of an innocent young woman, shocks our community to its core,” District Attorney Gascón said. “My office will work tirelessly to hold Gabriel Esparza accountable for his callous actions against Ms. Vasquez and her partner. In these moments of profound sorrow, I send my deepest condolences to Ms. Vasquez’s family as they cope with this painful tragedy.”
Gabriel Sean Esparza (03/18/03), of Whittier, is charged in case BA517367 with one count of murder, one count of willful, deliberate and premeditated, attempted murder; one count of kidnapping to commit rape; one count of kidnapping; one count of assault with intent to commit rape; and two counts of attempted forcible rape. Additionally, special circumstances of murder during the course of a kidnapping and murder during the course of an attempted rape are alleged.
It is further alleged as to all seven counts that in the commission and attempted commission of the offenses, Esparza personally used a rifle.
Esparza pleaded not guilty today at an arraignment. His preliminary hearing setting is scheduled for October 25 in Dept. 50 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He is being held on no bail. If convicted of the charges and allegations Esparza faces a maximum penalty of life without the possibility of parole.
On August 20, Esparza allegedly approached Vasquez and the other victim shortly after midnight at the parking stalls area of Penn Park in Whittier where he proceeded to allegedly shoot at the victims.
Esparza allegedly kidnapped Vasquez from the scene and drove off with her in the bed of his pickup truck. He drove her to a remote area of Moreno Valley in Riverside County where he attempted to rape her before dumping her body in a field.
On August 21, Esparza was arrested by Whittier police detectives and LADA’s Bureau of Investigation (BOI) Community Violence Reduction Team at his workplace in Lakewood. Later that day, Vasquez’s body was found in Moreno Valley.
The case was investigated by the Whittier Police Department with the assistance of LADA’s BOI Community Violence Reduction Team, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and the Downey and La Habra police departments.
Source: Los Angeles County District Attorney