For Marilyn Necochea, 53, of San Bernardino, the internal wounds of her sister’s murder are still fresh. The thought of her killer’s possible parole has filled her with indignation. With the help of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), Necochea is asking that Jonathan Guerrera-Flores, currently behind bars at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, not be granted an early release for the first degree murder of her younger sister, Michele Renee Flores–who was married to Jonathan.
“If I don’t do something now, that man will walk out of prison,” said Necochea. “I don’t think he deserves to. He took my little sister’s life just because she didn’t want to be with him anymore. She did not deserve to die the way she did.”
Necochea has submitted a request to the POMC to participate in their Parole Block program, which allows the families of murder victims to fight against the potential parole of murderers. According to Inland Empire chapter leader Agnes Gibboney, the organization will write and circulate petitions to prevent the possible parole or early release of those convicted of murder. Parole boards also receive letters from the family on why they object to the individual’s release.
“By my past experiences in parole hearings, they [inmates] never get released on the first attempt,” Gibboney said. “I suggest the family write powerful letters to have a greater impact on the parole board. This will be a very emotional time for the family.”
Guerrera-Flores’ parole hearing is scheduled for November of this year.
Michele’s story and her experiences with abuse
‘Mickey’, the nickname given to Michele by close friends and family, is remembered as a sweet, caring, and kindhearted individual.
She was an athlete that played softball at Cajon High School, where she graduated in 1988, and later became a medical assistant at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Flores’ sister said their mother, Ruth Esquivias, described Mickey as a ‘go getter’ who was loved by the residents of the community.
“We knew she would be there for us,” Necochea said of her sibling. “She would give the shirt off her back if she could. Everyone she spoke to loved her. She touched many of us.”
The family lived next to Guerrera Flores, near Lytle Creek Park for many years. According to Necochea, Michele and Jonathan first met when they were young kids. They became involved in a romantic relationship some time around Michele’s sixteenth birthday.
“Jonathan was in the Navy around the time they began seeing each other,” Necochea recalls. “While she dated him she got pregnant. In fact, she graduated while being pregnant with their first child.”
As claimed by Necochea, it was a situation that encouraged Mickey’s parents to convince her to marry Guerrera-Flores. It’s something she said she’d never approve of.
“I didn’t attend because of the abuse she was suffering from him,” explained Necochea. “The relationship was always one of mental, physical, and verbal abuse. He would force himself on her. But my parents wanted the best for her and they believed that was marriage, even though they never thought much of him. I’m sure my mom regretted it.”
After the births of their two children, Jonathan Jr. (born 1988) and Jason (born 1990), the abuse became worse. After years of mistreatment, Michele sought a separation from her husband in February 1996. A month later, Guerrera-Flores threw Michele to the floor, choked her, and threatened to kill her, according to a story on the case published by the San Bernardino Sun on July 27, 1996. He was arrested for spousal abuse and given a three-year probation sentence that he later violated when he attacked Michele again in April 1996.
Guerrera-Flores faced a lengthy jail sentence as a result of his abuse and threats in May of that year. Michele stood on the witness stand during his trial with the chance to ensure her own safety, according to the same Sun article. Instead, she recanted her statements, and Guerrera-Flores was released days later. Necochea, in tears, said it is something that always stays with her.
“I remember one of her co-workers explaining to me that she made this statement to them at work days before her disappearance: ‘Tuesday (July 16) is our anniversary. I wonder if John is going to kill me.’” – Marilyn Necochea on her sister Michele.
The crime and its results
On July 15, 1996, according to a San Bernardino Police Department report Flores, 25, left her residence at 937 Western Avenue around 11:30 a.m. and headed to the Arrowhead Credit Union (known then as the San Bernardino Credit Union) on 4th Street and Sierra Way to withdrawal money to purchase groceries to feed her two young boys. Surveillance cameras at the ATM machines caught what were possibly the final moments of her life.
According to a San Bernardino Sun report from July 19, 1996, Michele never made the withdrawal and never returned home. She was last seen wearing blue Levi’s shorts and a charcoal gray top.
“She never went into work,” said Necochea. “All of us–friends and family–became concerned and began to pass out fliers.”
Three days later on July 18, she was found dead in the trunk of her maroon Chevrolet Corsica in Tijuana, Mexico. Coroner’s photos showed her body with multiple lacerations on her chest, arms, neck, and head.
“I had to go identify the body,” Necochea said. “It was the only way they could move forward in the investigation.”
Guerrera-Flores, now 48, was arrested a week later near the U.S.-Mexican border in El Paso, by Texas authorities after learning he had stolen a car in Pomona. He was flown back to California to stand trial. His father, Frank Flores, was also arrested and charged with accessory to murder. Both men spent a year and a half in county jail, before being sentenced by the San Bernardino County Superior Court. The latter was given a jail sentence of approximately five months, with three years probation. The former was sentenced to 25- years-to-life in state prison. He was admitted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on January 8, 1998.
Jason Flores, now 25, said during an interview on January 23 that he retains the memories of his early childhood. He does not recount the severity of his parent’s situation.
Nonetheless he said he remembers the morning of Michele’s disappearance on July 15, 1996; he was six years old at the time.
“I remember wanting to go with her,” he explained. “I threw a fit and began to cry because she didn’t take us with her. I also remember going swimming with my dad that day.”
Jason said he had a good relationship with his father at an early age. They would play hide and go seek, basketball, and video games.
“He was a good father figure with my brother and I,” he said. He visited his father in prison until he was 15-years-old, and lost contact with him at 19, mainly due to personal issues.
“I stumbled across information about his case,” he said. “I didn’t really know what happened because no one in the family spoke about it. He told me it was an accident, and that he never meant to do it. I don’t hate him for it, but I think he’s a bad person for doing it.”
Jonathan Jr., 27, and now a father himself, said he remembers every detail of those gloomy days at eight years of age. He recalls having to stop his father from choking his mother.
“It’s hard to live with,” he said. “I’m in the middle. Both sides are being hurt by these days. If my dad is truly a changed man, he shouldn’t want to get out soon.”
The elder son said domestic violence is an issue that has deep wounds that could affect people for a very long time.
“It’s been 20 years and we still remember it like it was yesterday.”
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