Victims identified; search for two of three suspected killers continues

Palm Springs police have released more details surrounding a trio of suspected homicides in the city in the span of two weeks, but also find themselves in a familiar situation. They are asking for the public’s help to solve two of the cases.

Police Lt. William Hutchinson said Friday evening that at this time there is no reason to believe two of the incidents that occurred within a block of each other less than a week apart are related. A third incident in the center of the city, he said, appears to be a case of domestic violence.

“We don’t believe this is a case of anybody being targeted,” Hutchinson said of two deaths in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood in a span of six days. “There’s not any type of ongoing threat to anybody up there.”

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In a Feb. 19 incident, police said a 36-year-old Palm Springs woman, Elisa Dorsey, was killed in her home in the 600 block of Rosa Parks Road. Police were called to the home at around 5:30 p.m. and discovered her body. They originally ruled Dorsey’s death suspicious, but later said she had been murdered.

On Feb. 25, police responding to reports of a vehicle that had crashed into a telephone pole at the intersection of Rosa Parks Road and Granada Avenue at approximately 6:30 p.m. found the driver of the vehicle had suffered a gunshot wound. Jermaine Hamilton, 45, of Cabazon, was pronounced dead at 6:42 p.m.

Hutchinson said police need the public’s help to solve the apparent murders of Dorsey and Hamilton. No witnesses have come forward and processing any evidence typically takes weeks. Anyone with information, he said, is encouraged to call the Palm Springs Police Department at 760-327-1441 or report information anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

In the third incident, police said 48-year-old Ernestina Oropeza died after being stabbed at around 10 p.m. March 1 in an apparent case of domestic violence at her home in the 1700 block of East Arenas Road.

The suspect in Oropeza’s murder is a 64-year-old male resident of the home who was taken into custody shortly after police arrived at the scene. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged the man with one felony count of murder and three felony counts of willful child cruelty because children are believed to have witnessed the murder. He also faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in commission of a felony.

He was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Friday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, but had the hearing rescheduled to Monday. He remains at the John Benoit Detention Center on $1 million bail.

To date there have been four homicides in the city in 2022. The first occurred on Jan. 11, when the body of a 32-year-old man was discovered in a parking lot in the 56000 block of Ramon Road. Witnesses reported that the man had been in an altercation with another man and that they heard gunfire following the altercation. No suspects have been named in that case.

Last year there were seven murders reported in Palm Springs.

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