Advertisement

Gov. Newsom announces rewards for information in unsolved killings of two Orange County residents

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento on Feb. 27.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento. (Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom is offering rewards of $50,000 each for information leading to the arrests and convictions in the longstanding unsolved killings of two Orange County residents.

The victims in the two separate cases were Victoria Barrios, 18, who was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting in Santa Ana in 2019, and Alan Jay Schwalbe, 61, who was stabbed to death in his home in Costa Mesa in 1993.

Barrios was walking with two friends just after midnight on Aug. 30, 2019, near 500 E. Pine Street, when a red four-door, possibly a Chevrolet Tahoe, passed by and someone inside fired several rounds, according to surveillance video found by homicide detectives. Barrios died at the scene and another man nearby was injured.

The shooting was considered to be gang-related, but police don't think Barrios or the man who was injured were the intended targets.

Barrios' family didn't gave up searching for leads. Her mother Eva Barrios put up billboards throughout Orange County saying "Who Killed My Daughter?", asking anyone with information to contact authorities. Two years after Barrios's death, the family unveiled a mural in her honor at Santa Ana's Blue Lot art space that was also meant to encourage witnesses to come forward.

"Victoria was a sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend. She was ambitious, fun-loving, and kind hearted," says a message on a Justice For Victoria Barrios website set up by the family to solicit information in the case. "Victoria and our family deserve justice!"

Eva Barrios described her ongoing grief earlier this week to followers on a public Facebook page the family created for Victoria.

"I will never truly know how to 'manage' my new norm," she wrote. "I do realize that things will NEVER be the same without you, baby girl."

Investigators said they've exhausted all of their leads in the case. They're asking anyone who has information about Barrios' murder to call Santa Ana homicide detectives at (714) 245-8390.

The murder of Schwalbe occurred on August 11, 1993. The 61-year-old real estate investor and well-known gay activist was found stabbed to death in the kitchen of his home in the 300 block of 22nd Street in unincorporated Costa Mesa. The water was still running in the sink when Schwalbe's body was discovered, loved ones told The Times then. There were signs of a struggle but no evidence of a forced entry, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said.

The department reexamined the case in 2022, hoping that new forensic technology would help reach a breakthrough.

Anyone with information about Schwalbe's murder is asked to contact Investigator Bob Taft with the Orange County Sheriff's Department’s cold case unit at (714) 647-7055 or coldcase@ocsheriff.gov.

The rewards in each of the cases are made possible by the state's crime-tip program, which allows law enforcement agencies to ask the governor to offer amounts of up to $50,000 for information that results in the arrests and convictions of perpetrators in certain unsolved cases and up to $100,000 for crimes against first responders and arsons targeting places or worship.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.