Rudy Fernandez Allegedly Killed The Mother Of His Daughter When He Was A Teenager
Rudy Fernandez, who is wanted for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, has been on the run for nearly two decades.
ONTARIO, CA — Annette Fernandez doesn’t have many memories of her mother, Griselda Sandoval. When Annette was just three years old, her mom was murdered —allegedly by her father, Rudy Fernandez. “It was weird at first, because she brought me to this world, but I have no idea who she is. And I would hear these stories, but I would never get to see her,” Annette says.
She sat down recently with Callahan Walsh to tell her story in hopes of finally finding her biological father and bringing him to justice. “She was really a great person. And she had a big heart and she was the strongest person ever, she never let anything bring her down. And even if she had a rough time, if she had a goal, she would go for it,” Annette says.
Griselda’s mother, Imelda Sandoval, tells In Pursuit With John Walsh, “She was 16 years old when she met Rudy. They always go to church every Sunday; I mean, he looks like a nice guy.” Those who knew the couple say they admired one another and over all they seemed happy. “They were together maybe for like six months when she got pregnant,” Imelda adds.
Griselda’s brother, Junior Sandoval, remembers, “That’s definitely when things started changing with Rudy. He started getting more aggressive with her and more controlling towards her. He definitely wanted to have her all to himself.”
Griselda may have been carrying a baby, but that wasn’t going to stop her from getting an education. She continued to take classes during the week, when she’d stay with her family, and would visit Rudy, 15, on the weekends.
In October 1988, Annette was born. “My sister was a great mom, and she would do anything for Annette…. I think that they were just in love with Annette, and they were happy to be parents,” Junior adds.
But Rudy wanted Griselda and Annette with him all the time, so he convinced his girlfriend to move in with him and his family. Griselda’s family said that Rudy promised to drive her the 40 miles round trip each day to school, but he didn't stick to his word.
Imelda says, “She hadn’t been here to school at all. And I called her, and she says, ‘Mom he didn’t want to take me. We got into a fight and he didn’t want me to go back to school.’” Junior adds, “He didn’t like that he wasn’t the center of her world anymore. So it started happening again where he was getting more aggressive."
Two years after the birth of her daughter, Griselda finally received her GED and began working at a medical facility. “He was jealous because she was getting better. She got a job and she was taking care of Annette,” Imelda adds. Griselda’s ambition did not sit well with him. “One time she called me and said, ‘Mom can you come pick me up? We got in a big fight and he told me that he’s going to kill me. He’s going to cut me into pieces and put me in the freezer,’” Imelda says.
No one could understand why Griselda still wanted to be with a man who was so controlling and mean to her — he’d even set her car on fire. No one knew that she was becoming paralyzed in a world of domestic abuse.
Junior says, “I think the reason why she would always go back to him was the idea that she wanted to have a family, and she wanted to live a life closer to God, and wanted to make a relationship with her family work. She wanted to have a happy life.”
TEMPER SPILLS OVER
According to the Ontario Police, they say Rudy wasn’t just aggressive toward his girlfriend, but toward other people as well. Ontario Police Detective Robert Marquez tells In Pursuit, “Rudy is a very angry, impulsive individual who is the type of person that if you get in his way, he will take you out.”
There was one instance in particular where Marquez believes Rudy was on the brink of reaching his breaking point. “One coworker in particular who Rudy suspected of having a relationship with Griselda, was confronted by Rudy as he was walking out to his vehicle.” Marquez goes on to say Fernandez got into the man’s vehicle and threatened him. “But because he answered his questions properly, he was going to be able to walk away,” Marquez adds. He later asked to be transfers to a different branch.
GRISELDA MAKES HER ESCAPE
After four long years, Griselda’s family says she finally had enough and was ready to leave Rudy for good, and had secured an order of protection against him. “The whole week, he was bothering her, calling her, following her, that’s when we started thinking to send her to another place,” Imelda tells In Pursuit. Imelda wanted her daughter to leave the state, to live with family somewhere else and escape this violence, but Griselda wanted to continue with the life she built in the area with those who loved her.
October 7, 2001, Rudy made an appearance at Griselda’s job. She was working solo on the weekend at the Medical Center. Imelda remembers, “Maybe around 12, when she called me, she said, ‘Mom, Rudy came. He knocked on the door.’ I told her don’t open the door.” After work, she was supposed to come home to celebrate her dad’s birthday. “She didn’t answer the phone. I called the clinic, they didn’t answer,” Griselda remembers.
Ontario Police Detective Terry Bertanga remembers receiving a 911 call and responding to the building after a coworker called for help. “An employee at the COMP Medical Center … she had responded to work to relieve the dayshift personnel and found a door that’s typically locked, unlocked. As she went in, she looked and found a purse open with its contents scattered on the ground. She felt uneasy, backed out, and called for police.”
Bertanga said when he arrived, items from Griselda’s purse were scattered around. “I saw Griselda clearly dead,” he says. “She was partially clothed. She had trauma to her face. And in her head area, there was a lot of blood. This was a very violent attack.”
Investigators believe Rudy and Griselda struggled. She tried to get away, but Fernandez allegedly shot his gun and hit her in the leg. “As Griselda was able to get closer to the front door, Rudy caught up to her and ultimately shot her in the back of the head,” Bertanga adds.
Police believe Rudy then took off in Griselda’s vehicle and abandoned the car in East Los Angeles. Imelda says, “Sometimes I look strong, but I can’t believe it ever happened, and I still can’t believe it, I miss her every day.”
“You know with Annette, she’s part of my sister. And I want to make my sister proud that we’re doing a good job raising her daughter,” Junior adds.
Callahan Walsh tells Annette, “We both have this connection, right? We both grew up knowing that we’ve lost a family member we really didn’t know very well.” Annette says, “And now that I’m older, she’s not like a ghost to us. I always feel like she’s there no matter what."
“I’m sure she’s looking down at you right now and proud of the young woman you’ve become,” Callahan adds.
“If it wasn’t for what happened, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, with the amazing family that I have. I like to see it as I got a second shot at having a family and I love them so much. I’m grateful that she was my mom,” Annette concludes.
Fernandez is wanted out of San Bernardino County for murder and Riverside County for assault. Investigators say they consider Fernandez armed and dangerous. It’s possible he’s connected to a gang called the Westside Riva, and he could be hiding in Mexico.
TRAITS & CHARACTERISTICS:
- Weight: 145 pounds
- Height: 5 feet 5 inches
- Sex: Male
- Race: Hispanic
- Eyes: Brown
- Date of birth: April 5, 1982
- Current age: 36
- Location of crime: Ontario, California
- Last seen: Los Angeles, California
- Tattoo: “Rudy” across his chest
- Very toned build
- Known history of drug offenses
- Known to have been a member of the West Side Riva Demonios gang
If you know anything about this case or where to find Fernandez, please contact our hotline (833-3-PURSUE) or submit a tip online.
For more on this case, watch the “Savage Soldier” episode of In Pursuit With John Walsh on Wednesday, March 13 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery! Or catch up on ID GO.