"She had visible head trauma and her body was decomposing inside a cardboard box," the Dinuba police lieutenant says

By Christine Pelisek
July 14, 2017 11:13 AM
Credit: Dinuba Police Department

A Nevada man is behind bars after police found a woman’s dead, beaten body in a cardboard box wrapped in tape in the back of his Lincoln Navigator, PEOPLE confirms.

Police made the gruesome discovery after they arrested 37-year-old Jose Anthony Rodriguez, of Reno, on July 9 for allegedly stabbing his brother at his mother’s home in Dinuba, California.

The woman found was Rodriguez’s 29-year-old girlfriend and the mother of two of his four children, Dinuba Police Department Lt. Abel Iriarte tells PEOPLE. Police allege Rodriguez drove his children as the body decomposed.

“She had visible head trauma and her body was decomposing inside a cardboard box,” he says. “The box was taped. We found the body four days later. It was 105 degrees in this area.”

It also looked like her kneecaps were broken, Iriarte says.

“We have a lot of cases that are pretty odd and weird but this one was something else,” he says. “There is a lot of sadness to it because of the kids involved.”

The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office charged Rodriguez on July 11 with eight felony counts including elder abuse, assault with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.

Rodriguez entered a not guilty plea and is being held on $1 million bail. His next hearing date in California is scheduled for July 21.

Iriarte alleges that after Rodriguez killed his girlfriend, he drove from Reno to Dinuba — around six hours — with his children in the car with the woman’s dead body in the back of the SUV.

“We located a hole he had dug at one of his relative’s houses [in Dinuba],” alleges Iriarte. “You can only speculate that he was planning to put her in there. It was good enough for a shallow grave.”

‘I Want Them to Give Him the Chair,’ His Mom Says

Police allege Rodriguez went on a violent rampage around Dinuba before he was finally caught. On July 8, the day before he was apprehended, Rodriguez allegedly fired a gun in the 1500 block of Sierra Way. A witness in the area told police the gunfire came from a black Lincoln Navigator.

On the same day, Rodriguez allegedly assaulted his mother, punching her in the face.

The following morning, around 8:40 a.m., officers were called to the 1300 block of East Olive Way, where they found Rodriguez’s brother suffering from a stab wound to his upper arm.

Rodriguez, who allegedly tried to flee out the back door, was arrested and taken into custody for the stabbing.

“He was intimidating everybody because the lady was missing,” he says. “Where is she at? They probably had that in their mind.”

Soon after his arrest, police received several tips from the community advising them that there was a dead body in the Lincoln Navigator. Detectives then executed a search warrant and found the body of Rodriguez’s girlfriend inside a cardboard box wrapped with tape.

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Rodriguez’s mother, Nellie Guttierez, alleged to KGPE that her son was a gang member who had been living for nearly 10 years with the victim.

The couple had four children, two together and two from Rodriguez’s previous relationship, she told the station.

The victim, she said, “was a very loving person and I’m sorry to all of her family and friends that this happened.” Her son, she said, was violent.

“He’s just stupid, dumb, he just did it, he just likes having control over people,” Gutierrez said. “I want them to give him the chair, I don’t give a damn anymore.”

It is unclear if Rodriguez has been charged with the killing of his girlfriend. The Reno Police Department did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment.