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California man suspected in slayings of 4 Tijuana sex workers faces femicide charge

California man suspected in slayings of 4 Tijuana sex workers faces femicide charge

A Downey man whom Mexican authorities have likened to notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is suspected of slaying three Tijuana sex workers in 2021 and 2022 and now has been linked to the killing of a fourth woman, according to prosecutors in the border city.

Bryant “Eduardo” Rivera (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) 

Bryant “Eduardo” Rivera, 30, was arrested July 6 by FBI agents and U.S. marshals outside his elderly parents’ home in Downey in connection with the strangulation death of Ángela Carolina Acosta Flores. He faces a charge of femicide, a hate crime defined as the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.

“We will apply all the legal and technological instruments necessary to find those responsible for any crime, particularly those considered for gender reasons,” former Baja California Attorney General Ricardo Iván Carpio Sánchez said in a statement prior to his abrupt resignation last week amid a violent crime wave plaguing the state. “So with a strong hand, we will seek to bring all those criminals to justice, even when they try to evade it by hiding in another country.”

Rivera remains in custody pending extradition to Mexico, where authorities there plan to present evidence to charge him with the slayings of Acosta and two other sex workers.

Deputy Federal Public Defender J. Alejandro Barrientos argued unsuccessfully last month that Rivera should be granted bail and be placed on home incarceration with a location ankle monitor because he has no prior criminal record and financially assists his parents through his job as a delivery driver.

“He is also a devoted and caring son to his parents,” Barrientos said in a court motion. “There is no evidence that Mr. Rivera poses an immediate danger to anyone in the Central District of California, or the United States more broadly, as Mr. Rivera has peacefully resided in the Los Angeles area for three decades.”

Last week, Carpio Sánchez told reporters Rivera is under investigation for another murder case but provided no details or the date of the slaying, according to The Associated Press. “It’s the same hotel, the victim is a woman and there are similarities to the deaths of the other victims,” he said.

The investigation into Acosta’s slaying began around noon on Jan. 25, 2022, after employees at the Hotel Cascadas discovered her naked, lifeless body in the bathroom of Room 404, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Surveillance video captured Bryant “Eduardo” Rivera and sex worker Ángela Carolina Acosta Flores shortly before Acosta was slain on the night of Jan. 24, 2022, in her room at the Hotel Cascadas in Tijuana, Mexico. (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) 

The hotel is directly above the Hong Kong Gentlemen’s Club in Tijuana’s redlight district, where Acosta had worked since September 2021 as a dancer and occasional sex worker.

At 10:12 p.m. on Jan. 24, Acosta allegedly sent her mother a text stating that she was going to Room 404 at the Hotel Cascadas with a customer for 30 minutes.

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After the woman was unable to reach her daughter by phone or text at 10:45 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., she went to the Hong Kong Gentlemen’s Club to ask about her, but the manager told her Acosta was “probably still busy,” according to the complaint.

Acosta’s boyfriend went to the club around 3 a.m. on Jan. 25 but couldn’t locate her. However, a woman at the club told him she had seen Acosta with a “gringo” named Bryant Rivera, the complaint says.

After Flores was found dead at the Hotel Cascadas, her mother tracked her cellphone to an address in Riverside.

Surveillance video shows Rivera and Acosta entering Room 404 at 10:13 p.m. on Jan. 24 and Rivera leaving alone about 90 minutes later.

Then, 13 minutes later, video captured Rivera on foot crossing the San Ysidro Point of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego, according to the criminal complaint.

Bryant “Eduardo” Rivera is seen on surveillance video at the San Ysidro Point of Entry about 13 minutes after leaving a room at the Hotel Cascadas in Tijuana, Mexico, where sex worker Ángela Carolina Acosta was slain. (Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice) 

Information was not immediately available regarding when Rivera might be extradited to Mexico.