Years-old Hemet missing person case turned homicide investigation leads to boyfriend’s arrest

HEMET, Calif., — Riverside County Sheriff’s officials yesterday announced the arrest of a man suspected of murdering his girlfriend and dumping her body west of the Lake Elsinore area near Highway 74, commonly referred to by locals as the Ortega Hwy.

The murder investigation began as a missing person’s case in December 2019, after the victim’s family reported the woman missing.


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Deputies from the Perris Sheriff’s Station began investigating the disappearance of 33-year-old, Hemet resident, Katherine Mary Neitzke, in late 2019 after concerned family members reported that they had not been able to contact or locate her, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Brosche reported yesterday.

The case was eventually handed off to station investigators, who continued their efforts to locate information about her disappearance over the next several years.

Hugo Leonel Hernandez was arrested late last month after a missing person investigation into the 2019 disappearance of 33-year-old, Hemet resident, Katherine Mary Neitzke turned into a homicide investigation. RSO photos

“During the course of their investigation, they uncovered evidence that led them to believe Neitzke was the victim of a homicide and identified a possible suspect,” Brosche explained.

Based on the newly developed information, in June of last year the case was turned over to the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit.

“Central Homicide Unit investigators determined Neitzke’s boyfriend, Hugo Leonel Hernandez, age 44, murdered Nietzke and disposed of her body at an unknown location near Highway 74,” Brosche continued.

As their homicide investigation continued, on Jan. 26, CHU investigators located Hernandez in Oceanside, San Diego, where he was arrested.

He was later booked into the Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of first-degree murder.


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Online jail records indicate Hernandez remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail or bond and his next court appearance has been scheduled for Feb 17th, at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Anyone with information regarding this ongoing investigation is encouraged to contact Investigator Gilbert of the Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777. Callers can refer to incident file number PC193520052 and can remain anonymous.

Contact the writer:

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.