UPDATE: Thousand Palms pool cleaner arrested in murder of Palm Desert woman, 93

UPDATED: Saturday, Dec. 4, 8:17 a.m.

See original Story below.

PALM DESERT, Calif., — Authorities have announced an arrest in the ongoing murder investigation of a 93-year-old Palm Desert woman who was found deceased inside her home late last month.

The victim, Jean Grace Willrich, was discovered murdered at her residence in the 77000 block of Michigan Drive, just southeast of Hovley Lane and Turqueries Avenue, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

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Although officials have not mentioned any known motive or speculated what may have led to the elderly woman’s murder, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Ed Baeza today said that a private, self-employed pool service and repairman has been arrested in Willrich’s homicide.

The man, Benjamin Briones, a 60-year-old resident of Thousand Palms, was arrested in Rancho Mirage early yesterday evening, Dec. 3, and has since been booked into the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Online jail records indicate he remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail or bond and is scheduled to be arraigned at the Indio Larson Justice Center on Dec. 8th.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to immediately call Investigator Castaneda with Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777 or Investigator Chua of the Palm Desert Sheriff Station at (760) 836-1600. Callers can refer to incident file number T213340078 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.


Original Story: Woman, 93, ID’d after found murdered in Palm Desert home – Investigation continuing

UPDATED: Thursday, Dec. 2, 9:10 a.m., With release of victim’s name.

Originally Published: Wednesday, Dec. 1, 10:43 a.m.

PALM DESERT, Calif., — Authorities say a murder investigation is continuing after the lifeless body of a woman was found at a home in a Palm Desert neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 30. The discovery was made at a private residence in the 77000 block of Michigan Drive, just southeast of Hovley Lane and Turqueries Avenue, according to officials.

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Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station deputies were dispatched to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. reference a suspicious death investigation, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Ed Baeza has since reported.

When deputies arrived they found a deceased female inside a residence suffering from trauma to her body that was determined to be “consistent with a homicide,” Baeza explained.

Deputies secured the scene and members of the Sheriff’s Central Homicide and Forensic Services units responded to the location and assumed the investigation.

The victim has since been identified as Jean Grace Willrich, 93, of Palm Desert; but no further details have been released in the Sheriff’s ongoing murder investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to immediately call Investigator Castaneda with Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777 or Investigator Chua of the Palm Desert Sheriff Station at (760) 836-1600. Callers can refer to incident file number T213340078 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available.



Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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