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Hollister
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August 4, 2021

Trail of abuse preceded murder

Murder victim Stephanie Rodriguez had been trying for months to
move away from her estranged and abusive husband before he killed
her.
Several neighbors and longtime friends who were close to
Stephanie, 37, said she was in the process of divorcing her husband
Leo Rodriguez, 40, when he apparently took matters into his own
hands Saturday night.
Murder victim Stephanie Rodriguez had been trying for months to move away from her estranged and abusive husband before he killed her.

Several neighbors and longtime friends who were close to Stephanie, 37, said she was in the process of divorcing her husband Leo Rodriguez, 40, when he apparently took matters into his own hands Saturday night.

The friends and neighbors, who asked not to be named, said Stephanie had moved back with her family in Mountain View several weeks ago with their 10-year-old son.

She was ordered by the local courts to move back to Hollister, where her husband still lived, because the custody of their son was still in question. Officials reportedly did not want her changing the youth’s school until a decision was reached, her friend of more than 25 years said.

“The court system failed her,” the longtime friend said. “The court ordered her back here even though they knew he had beaten her before.”

The son is now staying with Stephanie’s family in Mountain View, her family confirmed.

According to state records, Leo had been arrested twice before in Santa Clara County for spousal battery.

Hollister Police said he was a suspect in a grand theft case Sept. 6 when he allegedly broke into his wife’s apartment and stole a handgun and a rifle, police said.

“Neither of those weapons were the ones used in Saturday’s shooting,” Hollister Police Capt. Bob Brooks said.

Brooks confirmed that before the shooting Stephanie had been actively trying to get the court to issue a restraining order against Leo, but one had not been served yet.

Several of Stephanie’s neighbors at 1051 Sunnyslope Road, who heard portions of the incident Saturday, said Leo had apparently been trying to trick Stephanie into going somewhere with him.

“He called her ahead of time and said that their son was in a hospital in Mountain View and that he would be over there to pick her up,” said the neighbor who talked to Stephanie earlier that evening.

The neighbor advised her to go back in the apartment and call the hospital herself to check if her son was actually in the hospital.

The neighbor said while Stephanie was on the telephone, her husband arrived and tried to convince her to go with him, but she refused, saying she was on the phone and busy.

Other neighbors said it was then Leo apparently flew into a rage and broke open the front door. Just a few minutes later, when police arrived on the scene, they found the bodies of Stephanie and Leo Rodriguez on the living room floor of apartment B.

Stephanie’s family in Mountain View declined to comment on the shooting Monday but said they may release a statement later today. Her funeral services will be held Friday in Mountain View.

Leo’s family could not be reached for comment on his death by press time.

Police said Saturday’s tragic incident was not the first time Hollister had seen a murder-suicide.

“Many years ago, in the mid 1980s, there was a lesbian couple that took similar actions on Hawkins Street,” Brooks said.

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