MURRIETA – One of two suspects who allegedly snatched a Temecula woman’s purse containing the belongings of her dead son was released today on $5,000 bail.
Romulo Castaneda, 49, of Chino Hills is suspected, along with 30-year- old Amanda Nicole Sander of Diamond Bar, in a theft at an LA Fitness gym in the 40900 block of California Oaks Road in Murrieta.
Castaneda was arrested Thursday afternoon on suspicion of burglary and theft. He posted bond and was released from the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta this morning.
According to Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad, Castaneda and Sander allegedly forced open a locker in the women’s changing room at LA Fitness on March 31 and grabbed a purse belonging to a woman whose toddler son, Timothy, had recently died.
The cause of death was not disclosed.
The victim had held onto the child’s toys, which held ”sentimental value,” keeping them in her purse, along with her identification, cash and credit cards, all of which were taken, Conrad said.
According to Conrad, investigators visited retail outlets where the stolen cards were used to make purchases. Surveillance photographs were obtained and circulated publicly, culminating in the identification of Castaneda and Sander as the suspects.
Sander was found on Monday in a Los Angeles County jail, where she’s being held without bail on an unrelated felony charge, according to Conrad.
Sander ”refused to cooperate” with detectives, in spite of which, they were able to locate the victim’s purse at the home of one of Sander’s acquaintances, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, Conrad said. The toys were not in the handbag.
Castaneda was taken into custody without incident at a home in the 15400 block of Fairfield Ranch Road in Chino Hills, Conrad said.
”Mr. Castaneda gave a statement (but) he was unable to give detectives the location of the toys,” Conrad said.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to call Detective Jeremy Durant at (951) 461-6354.