Mother: Victim in apparent Citrus Heights murder-suicide was turning life around

10:40 PM, Aug 23, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Mom: Citrus Heights murder victim was changing her life

  • Melinda Kaye Mikita
  • Rufino Sanchez III

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA - Citrus Heights police are investigating the discovery of two bodies inside a home on Pleasant View Drive Sunday as a possible murder-suicide.

Monday, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the woman as Melinda Mikita, 28; and the man as Rufino Sanchez, 26.

According to Lt. Gary Hendricks, a neighbor called police around 9 a.m. Sunday after discovering the man and woman inside the home on the 7200 block of Pleasant View Drive.

Hendricks said Sanchez was found on the floor in a bedroom, Mikita was found on the bed and a gun was nearby. Investigators believe that Sanchez killed Mikita, then himself.

Sanchez' neighbor Carlos Escalante said Sanchez met Mikita through an adult website called several months ago and had consensual sexual relations ever since.

"That's where he showed me this lady," said Escalante. "I made sure that was the girl when all this coincidence happened.  I looked at the picture he showed me on there before. I looked at her MySpace and I said, 'Jesus, this is the girl he took his life over.'"

Escalante said Sanchez would come over and play video games. He said Sanchez was a quiet and kind-hearted man, who spent a lot of time at home and was a well-to-do professional online poker player.

"I don't know why he would have taken his life. He was set," said Escalante.

Sanchez' mother Denise Sanchez said, "All I know was he wasn't a bad person. He was a caring and loving person. And maybe he got caught up with the wrong people. But this was not him. I'm very sorry for both families."

Family and friends said Mikita had three children. Three children, ages 10, 5, and 4, were found outside of the home with an adult when officers arrived, according to Hendricks.

Elivra Chantung, a neighbor who lives behind the home, said she heard three shots fired just before 8 a.m. She didn't expect something like this to happen in her neighborhood.

"Very surprising. This neighborhood is very, very quiet.  We've never had any problems," said Chantung.

Scott Sillman, a family friend, said Mikita was shot three times in the head. He believed it may have been a case of infatuation by Sanchez for Mikita that boiled over.

A babysitter for Mikita's children confirmed  Mikita befriended Sanchez online two months ago. She said she looked after the children the night before the shooting.

Mikita's mother Rhonda Morris said her daughter had known Sanchez for several months, but she was unclear how the two met. Morris said Mikita, a Mary Kay saleswoman, was turning her life in a positive direction.

"My daughter changed her life around. She went to beauty school. She was a good mother. She was going to graduate soon. She was getting married in June," Morris said. "I love my daughter and I miss my daughter."

Mikita's MySpace page indicates that Mikita was "a single mother of three, living life to the fullest."

Late Sunday, investigators served a search warrant on a silver Mercedes. Police also searched the home where Mikita had been living the past four or five months.

Sanchez's neighbor said the silver Mercedes was a vehicle Sanchez borrowed from a friend. Sanchez's Mercedes was white. According to the neighbor, Sanchez was also a registered gun owner.

Investigators were working to determine a motive for the killing and to determine the exact relationship between Sanchez and Mikita, Hendricks said.

By Suzanne Phan,

Twitter: @suzannephan


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