Investigators verify finding of kidnapper’s body
by PI Staff
Mar 01, 2011 | 2061 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Department of Justice officials confirmed Tuesday, March 1, that a body found in the Delta-Mendota Canal on Feb. 12 was Jose Estaban Rodriguez, who investigators say kidnapped and murdered 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas in January.--Contributed photo.
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The state Department of Justice confirmed Tuesday, March 1, that a body found in the Delta-Mendota Canal near Crows Landing on Feb. 12 was 27-year-old Jose Estaban Rodriguez, the suspected kidnapper and murderer of 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas.

Department of Justice officials notified Stanislaus County Sheriff’s detectives of their determination after fingerprint experts examined prints from palm skin taken during Rodriguez’s Feb. 16 autopsy with palm print arrest records on file.

Rodriguez, the ex-boyfriend of Juliani’s mother, Tabitha Cardenas, allegedly ripped Juliani from the arms of Tabitha’s mother, Amparo Cardenas, on Jan. 18 and sped away in his Toyota Corolla. A farm worker told police the following day that he had seen a car matching the Corolla’s description roll into the Delta-Mendota Canal off of Zacharias Road with both a boy and a man inside. Investigators recovered Juliani’s body in the canal near Santa Nella on Feb. 1 and Rodriguez’s body in the waterway near Bell and Diehl roads south of Crows Landing 11 days later.

Rodriguez, who was not Juliani’s biological father, had an extensive criminal history prior to the kidnapping and murder-suicide incident. He was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse and drunken driving and convicted of manslaughter in 1999, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

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