The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged a Maui man with kidnapping and murder this week.
Roman Cerratos, 39, allegedly kidnapped, stabbed and shot Jeffery Appel, 32, in Carson, CA on April 16. He was detained last week in Mexico and deported to Los Angeles where he was arrested according to the DA’s Office.
The Assistant Media Chief for the District Attorney’s Office confirmed to Maui Now that Cerratos is from Maui although he could not say how long he lived here, only that he was from “Mopua, Hawaiʻi.”
According to State of Hawaiʻi Judiciary records Cerratos was pulled over for driving under the influence in 2015. He appeared in Second Circuit Court in Wailuku on charges of DUI, having no driver’s license and no insurance. The case is listed as “inactive.”
A press release from L.A. County states that if convicted as charged, Cerratos faces up to life in state prison. The case remains under investigation by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
Cerratos was also linked to missing teenager stemming from the same case.
According to a Amber Alert Special Bulletin from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Cerratos and Maricela Mercado were believed to have left the South Bay area with Mercado’s 15-year-old daughter, Alora Benitez, on the same day as the murder. There have been no updates on Benitez’s whereabouts since, not even after Cerratos was taken into custody.
In response to questions about the missing teen the D.A.’s Office referred to the L.A. County Sheriff ‘s for comment as the lead investigators of this case.