Suspect believed to be hiding in Mexico |

Suspect believed to be hiding in Mexico

The hunt for a South Lake Tahoe man who police believe offered a 11-year-old girl a fatal amount of cocaine and alcohol is entering its sixth month.

Police believe Jose Rodriguez-Perez, 23, hosted a party at Ski Run Boulevard in March and provided Claudia Torres, a sixth-grader at South Tahoe Middle School, with a lethal dose of cocaine and alcohol.

Rodriguez-Perez and a group of teen-age girls dropped Torres at Barton Memorial Hospital late at night without identification. Police authorized medical treatment but it failed with doctors pronouncing Torres dead about 30 minutes after she arrived.

The police and FBI are investigating the case. The police say all their leads indicate Rodriguez-Perez has returned to Mexico, where he was born. They hope to work with law enforcement in Mexico to catch the 23-year-old.

“We’ve heard he was in the Northwest to Mexico to Las Vegas,” South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hale. “Northwest seems to be unfounded. Everything seems to turn back to Mexico.”

If Rodriguez is caught, the district attorney’s office plans to charge him with second-degree murder. The maximum sentence he could receive if convicted is 15 years to life in prison.

Police interviewed Rodriguez-Perez twice after Torres’ death. He was not arrested at first because investigators didn’t know what caused Torres’ death. Several weeks later, toxicology tests revealed cocaine was to blame but by then Rodriguez-Perez had fled South Lake Tahoe.

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