Updated: Police won’t rule out woman as suspect after return from Mexico

The parents of Vanessa Flores console each other while addressing media Tuesday over her daughter's link to Jose Barajas, the suspect in last week's shooting homicide.

Hollister Police Chief David Westrick on Monday did not rule out a woman linked to an August homicide—she returned home over the weekend—as a potential accomplice or suspect in the case.
“At this point, anything’s open,” Westrick told reporters Monday afternoon outside the Hollister Police Department.
Police have located Vanessa Flores-Ibarra, the missing woman from an August homicide of Ariana Zendejas, but are still pursuing the suspect in the case. Flores-Ibarra, 19 at the time, went missing and had been seen last with the homicide suspect, Jose Barajas, 20 at the time of the shooting.
Westrick held a press conference Monday after the missing woman’s return. Agents found her crossing the Mexican border at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at Tijuana, according to Hollister police.
Westrick on Monday said it was too early in the process to confirm whether Flores-Ibarra is a suspect or accomplice. He also wasn’t sure why Flores-Ibarra—who told border authorities she was coming back to the U.S. after learning she was perceived as missing—waited six months to do so. He said investigators might conduct further questioning of Flores-Ibarra.
Police have been looking for Barajas as the primary suspect in the shooting that killed Zendejas, 19. Police alleged Barajas fired from one vehicle into another, which included Zendejas as a passenger, at B and West streets the night of Aug. 1. Investigators surmised it was in retaliation for a confrontation earlier that day between the suspect and another male. Investigators previously reported they believed Barajas was holding another female, Flores-Ibarra, against her will.
Among the significant revelations in the case Westrick revealed Monday:
Flores-Ibarra acknowledged being with Barajas while in Mexico, though Westrick would not talk about specific locations in the country and could not provide related timelines. He declined to comment Monday on whether she may have been kidnapped.
Flores-Ibarra told border patrol agents that she was returning because she realized she was declared a missing person.
Overall, Westrick characterized her discovery as a “very big piece of the puzzle.”
“Mr. Barajas needs to go to jail,” Westrick said. “He needs to answer for what he did that night, Aug. 1, 2014.”
As for Flores-Ibarra and her link to the case, there are mixed feelings in the community, the chief said.
“At this point, part of our community is very happy,” he said. “Another part of our community has questions on if she had any involvement.”
Anyone having information on this case or any other pending investigation is asked to call the Hollister Police Department at (831) 636-4330. People wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at 800-87-CRIME. Information provided to WeTip may qualify for a reward.
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