Most Wanted Monday: The Alleged Rapist With a Possibly Inappropriate Nickname

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
June 24 2013 2:14 PM

Most Wanted Monday: The Alleged Rapist With a Possibly Inappropriate Nickname

Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara
Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara

Courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

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Wanted for: Second-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution

Added to FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List: June 17, 2013

The circumstances: Last week, the FBI added two fugitives to its 10 Most Wanted List, filling the spots vacated by Edwin Ernesto Rivera Gracias, who was captured in March, and Eric Justin Toth, who was captured in April. One of the fugitives, former USC professor and alleged pedophile Walter Lee Williams, was arrested in Mexico one day after he was added to the list—proving once again that book smarts are of little use when you’re on the lam. The other man, an illegal immigrant and murder/rape suspect named Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara, has proven more elusive.

Guevara’s alleged crime is a sordid one. In 2008 Guevara was living with several roommates in a trailer park in Lake Charles, La., when he allegedly broke into his neighbor’s trailer, raped the woman who lived there, and then stabbed her to death—all in the presence of the woman’s 4-year-old stepson. From there, he fled, buying a one-way bus ticket to Dallas. Authorities believe Guevara then traveled on to Mexico, possibly to the San Luis Potosí region, where he’s from. He’s been missing ever since.

A lot of the guys on the 10 Most Wanted List are notably ugly or distinctive-looking. That’s not the case for Guevara, though, whose round baby face is not the sort that anyone would remember.* He does have a tattoo—the letter “J,” on his shoulder—and a nickname: Pelón, which translates to “baldy,” and which possibly refers to his close-cropped haircut. However, according to Urban Dictionary, pelón is also slang for penis, which is a troublesome nickname, especially if you’re an accused rapist.

His likely whereabouts: He’s probably in Mexico, though authorities say there’s a chance he slipped back into the United States. I’m not sure why he would do that, given that he’s a wanted fugitive facing murder charges, but here’s a thought: Guevara seems to be fond of lousy, mass-market American beers. Two of the three photographs of him on the FBI’s website show him holding beer: a can of Budweiser in one photo and a bottle of Coors Light in the other. I guess it’s possible he came back to the U.S. because, in Mexico, it is hard to find beers that are both less filling and taste great.

Prospects of catching him: Well, obviously, not as good as catching Walter Lee Williams, but, still, Top 10 listers like Guevara almost always get caught eventually. Guevara doesn’t seem to be affiliated with any major organized crime groups, so it’s not like he’s got any institutional protection; and there’s no longer any real reason why the Mexican government would shield him. For a while, that wasn’t the case: Guevara was charged with first-degree murder, and the Mexican government won’t hand over any fugitives who might face the death penalty in the United States. But the United States recently downgraded the charge to second-degree murder, so, now, he won’t face the death penalty. I give Guevara no more than a year before he’s brought to justice.

Most Wanted Score: Guevara is an exceedingly average Ten Most Wanted List member. While his alleged crime is a horrible one, he doesn’t appear to be a serial offender. While he’s got a tattoo, it’s not a particularly memorable one. He fled to a foreign country, albeit one from which we regularly recapture fugitives. This average fugitive deserves an average score: 5 out of 10 for Guevara.

*Correction, June 24, 2013: This post originally stated that Edwin Ernesto Rivera Gracias has a round, unmemorable baby face. Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara is the baby-faced fugitive in question.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.