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March 5, 2024

Man arrested near U.S.-Mexico border prime suspect in Watsonville homicide

WATSONVILLE—A Santa Cruz man has been arrested on suspicion of killing his reported girlfriend at an apartment complex on the 300 block of Clifford Avenue Tuesday evening.

Watsonville Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Pulido said Mexican authorities near the San Luis, Ariz. border crossing to Mexico detained Alberto Scalant, 33, at a routine checkpoint late Tuesday after WPD detectives issued a nationwide and international alert to law enforcement agencies.

WPD detectives traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border early Wednesday to begin the extradition process, which could take several days. Once in Santa Cruz County, Scalant will face murder charges for the death of 32-year-old Robin Kern who police say was his significant other, Pulido said.

Alberto Scalant. — photo courtesy of WPD

Scalant has a lengthy criminal history and has served a prison sentence for previous domestic violence charges, Pulido said. At the time of the homicide, he was on parole for domestic violence.

“This is the second time in less than a year that we have tragically lost a young mother to domestic violence,” said Pulido, referring to the death of Brenda Becerra, who police say was killed by her husband last October. “Our partners at Monarch Services are available 24/7 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.”

A call went out around 6:45pm Tuesday of a report of a woman down inside an apartment at the sprawling complex on Clifford Avenue. When police arrived they found Kern, a Watsonville resident, dead from stab wounds.

Investigators established a crime scene with lengths of yellow tape cordoning off a swath of the parking lot, a part of an adjoining field, an enclosed dumpster area and an apartment.

Scalant has been identified as the prime suspect in the homicide investigation, Pulido said.

The investigation unraveled through the night, and on Wednesday it had expanded to include more surrounding property.

Swarms of curious neighbors gathered in small groups as twilight fell, some hugging one another and others openly weeping.

The Monarch Services 24-Hour Crisis Hotline phone number is 1-888-900-4232.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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