Police investigators believe that David Quiroz requested “something specific” from Heather Carroll the morning of Oct. 10. Although detectives have yet to pin down a precise time when their encounter occurred, it appears as though an argument started soon after her arrival to his southeast Hollister home and that it promptly escalated into a physical confrontation, leading to her death.
Investigators are continuing to unravel details in Carroll’s homicide and await a host of forensics results. The police chief Thursday did lay out a more refined narrative of what may have occurred last week between the time the young mother went missing and a Friday night police standoff two days later at Quiroz’s house, resulting in his arrest and the discovery of Carroll’s body.
Police were immediately concerned after Carroll was first reported missing Oct. 10, last week Wednesday. It was out of character for Carroll, a detail-oriented wife and mother of a 5-year-old boy. Quiroz, 30, was in the couple’s circle of friends and even took part in her search the day after Carroll’s disappearance.
The looming question since the discovery of her body has been why Carroll ended up at Quiroz’s home in the 2100 block of Cerra Vista Drive. Police know that Carroll disappeared at some point after dropping off her son at Ladd Lane Elementary School and that the killing occurred the same morning, said interim Police Chief David Westrick. But the chief could not confirm the type of request made by Quiroz or whether Carroll had been in contact with anyone else after the school drop-off.
Westrick called the prospect of premeditation on Quiroz’s part a “tricky question.”
“We know that she went over to his residence because he requested her to come over there for something – something specific,” Westrick said.
Quiroz, who has pleaded not guilty, told investigators shortly after his arrest that he had started an argument between the two, said Westrick, who didn’t know the reason for the confrontation.
It appears as though the argument escalated quickly into the homicide, the chief said.
“It sounds like it was a relatively violent, quick fight,” he said.
Authorities had Quiroz in custody at about 3 a.m. Saturday after the overnight but incident-free standoff. Police allege that Quiroz admitted to the killing and took authorities to her body, recovered at about 5:30 a.m.
Asked where Quiroz had the body in the home, Westrick clarified that the body was found “on the property.” The chief declined to confirm where on the property and whether it was above ground.
Carroll’s official cause of death was blunt force trauma and strangulation, according to the autopsy results.
Aside from the strangulation, there was a weapon involved as well. The chief said he could not confirm the type of weapon “because there are a number of things it could possibly be.”
As for Carroll’s injuries, Westrick would only say she sustained them to the upper body. He declined to comment about the possibility of sexual abuse – noting how that kind of verification would come from a pending forensics analysis – but did say there is “nothing that we know of” at this point.
It is unclear, meanwhile, how the argument escalated from a physical fight to, as police allege, Quiroz killing Carroll.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to get that answer,” Westrick said. “We have what he told us.”
That admission, contended Public Defender Greg LaForge, is suspect itself. LaForge is representing Quiroz and said he plans to stay on the case permanently.
“Anytime you have a confession from a suspect, the confession itself is suspect,” he said. “That’s how I’m approaching it. We don’t know if it was a coerced confession, if it was given under duress, how many hours he was awake before he gave his confession.”
LaForge also questioned the district attorney’s second charge, aside from homicide, alleging kidnapping for ransom.
“I haven’t gotten to any facts that would even come close to substantiating that charge,” LaForge said.