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Four charged with Indio burglary that included theft of child’s ashes

Four suspects were charged in connection with a burglary at an Indio storage unit that included the theft of a one-year-old child's ashes.

Taylor Spencer, 31, of Thousand Palms, and 36-year-old Juan Carlos Molina of Indio were charged with one felony count of burglary, according to court records. Wally Venecia, 43, of Indio, and 54-year-old Victor Banuelos of La Quinta were each charged with one felony count of receiving stolen property, which Spencer was also charged with.   

Banuelos was additionally charged with three felony counts of being a convicted felon and narcotic addict in possession of a firearm and possessing controlled substances while armed, according to court records. Molina, Venecia, and Banuelos pleaded not guilty to their respective charges Wednesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio and their next court appearance was set for Nov. 28.

Spencer is set to be arraigned Dec. 28.

The burglary was reported to police on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 at Prime Storage at the 42900 block of Madison Street.

"During the burglary, multiple items were stolen including the ashes of the victim’s deceased son," reads a news release by the Indio Police Department.

Over the course of the next few days, detectives pursued multiple leads over the following days before two traffic stops and a search warrant led them to arrest Molina. According to inmate records, Molina was arrested Nov. 9 and booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, where he remains held on $25,000 bail.

Detectives were able to find some of the victim’s belongings at a motel in Bermuda Dunes, however, the ashes were not initially located.

Additional search warrants were served including one in Palm Desert that led to Banuelos' arrest. He was arrested for allegedly having a large amount of the victim's property, an assault weapon, additional handguns, and 1.3 pounds of methamphetamine for sale, police said.

Banuelos was arrested Nov. 10 and booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, but was released Nov. 16.

A large amount of the victim’s property was located during this search warrant however, once again, the child's ashes were not found.

More search warrants were served in Indio and Coachella, one suspect was detained and an elaborate check fraud system was discovered, but police did not find evidence of the burglary.

At some point, the child's ashes were dropped off at a Cal Fire Station in Palm Desert. The ashes were returned to the family and the investigation continued.

Detectives were able to locate two more suspects in the burglary, Valencia and Spencer, in Coachella.

The Indio Police Department has an ongoing investigation regarding the incident. If anyone has information about this case,

If anyone has any information regarding this incident, contact Detective Andres Meraz at (760) 541-4120 or to report anonymous information, call Valley Crime Stoppers at (760) 341- STOP (7867).

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Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Jesus Reyes

City News Service


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