Sheriff: Murder inspired by 'Sopranos'

Jan. 27, 2003 at 3:51 PM
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SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The gory murder and dismemberment of a fictional New Jersey gangster on the highly popular HBO mob drama "The Sopranos" apparently inspired a young Southern California man and his teenage brother to kill and dispose of their own mother in a similar fashion.

Orange County Sheriff Mike Corona confirmed media reports Monday that Jason Victor Bautista, 20, and his 14-year-old brother, whose name was not released, had been arrested for the murder of Jane Marie Bautista, whose headless and handless body was found in a ravine earlier this month.

"Jason told investigators that he and his brother had been involved in the killing and dismemberment of his mother," Corona grimly told a news conference. "Bautista also told investigators he had seen an episode of 'The Sopranos' where he saw the same type of dismemberment being done before the dumping of a body and replicated that in this case."

A subplot of the popular television series' most recent season came to a violent end in an episode in which Tony Soprano kills fellow mobster Ralphie Cifaretto in a kitchen brawl and then cuts off the dead man's hands and head before pitching the remainder of the corpse into a river, presumably to make it more difficult for authorities to trace the crime back to its origins.

"In that episode, they were trying to take away any identifying information," Corona said.

Investigators were able to break the case during the weekend after a security guard at a construction site in Oceanside said that on Jan. 14, he saw what appeared to be the two brothers attempting to dump what looked to him like a body wrapped in a sleeping bag into a dumpster. The guard confronted the two individuals who threw the sleeping bag back into their vehicle and sped off.

The body of Jane Marie Bautista was discovered the next day off Ortega Highway in Orange County. Orange County lies between Oceanside and Riverside County where the Bautista family lived in a gated apartment complex. The body was found 14 miles from Interstate 5, which links Oceanside and the rest of San Diego County with the greater Los Angeles area.

A search warrant was executed at the Bautista apartment over the weekend during which time deputies recovered the woman's missing head and hands.

Neighbors told the Los Angeles Times that they had often heard Jane Marie Bautista yelling at her sons, however the noises recently stopped abruptly. Corona said Monday the motive for the slaying was not known.

"I don't know what motive you could possibly give for killing your mother and cutting off her head and her hands," the sheriff said.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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