It was the night before Independence Day, 1991.
Roberto Esqueda Garcia, a 28-year-old father of three, commuting nightly from the family's home in Orange County to work as a store clerk in a small liquor store in North Hollywood, would welcome in a man who would leave taking more than cash from the register.
Thirty years later, LAPD Valley Homicide Bureau detectives have reopened the cold case, offered a $50,000 reward and a suggestion that the killer could still be nearby.
Garcia was working at the store on the corner of Sherman Way and Ethel Avenue. Today, only the signage above the entrance is still the same. But crime scene photos from the night he was killed show a moment trapped in time; a puddle of blood under a lifeless body, some cash left in the register, cigarette packs strewn about and a crowd of onlookers as detectives traced every step the killer made.
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"I don’t have many memories, no I don't," says Garcia's eldest daughter. She was 11 years old when her dad was killed. Thirty years later and she's still afraid to share her name or show her face, afraid the killer is still living his life while her dad lost his.
"I knew my dad passed away, that he was murdered and he was at the cemetery and we'd go visit him," she says.
LAPD Detective Benjamin Sadeh says even now they don't have any leads. Surveillance cameras were present, but he says they weren't working. But in looking back at the case, and securing the new reward money from the LA City Council, he says the cold case is heating up.
"We believe it was someone who lived locally and someone from back then knew of him. So I'm hoping with the reward, somebody will come forward."
For the family left behind, they say Garcia missed out on multiple lifetimes of memories; watching his own two daughters and one son grow up to have families of their own being their greatest regret.
"Our father was really important to us. He missed out on a lot, we missed out on a lot," his daughter says. "I would've had a father figure, someone who may have been harder on me than my mom was, something that I needed."
Now the family is seeking justice, hoping the reward money could spark interest and lead someone who knows about the crime to come forward.
"There's always been anger because there's no closure and we want justice," she says.
As for the LAPD, this is one of hundreds of cold cases still open, proof Sadeh says, the department doesn't give up.
"No, no, we keep fighting," he says. "And we don't forget."
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact LAPD Valley Bureau Homicide at 818-644-8080 or LAPD CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can remain anonymous and still get the reward.