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Press Release

Thursday, April 8, 2021


On August 4, 2020, at approximately 1:03 a.m., Turlock Police responded to a call of an aggravated assault in progress in the 500 block of Twentieth Century Boulevard. When officers arrived, they located Amythest Cortez, 27 years, of Gustine who was shot. Despite advanced medical care, Ms. Cortez and her unborn baby died.

Turlock Police Detectives have been tirelessly working on this case since that night. A suspect was identified relatively early in the investigation as Robert Penaloza Jr., 29 years, of Turlock. It was learned he fled the area immediately and was believed to be in Mexico. An arrest warrant was issued for Penaloza on January 19, 2021.

Turlock Police Department worked with investigators from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as well as the U.S. Marshals Service to locate Penaloza. Through relentless investigation, Turlock Police Detectives identified a possible area in Tijuana, Mexico, they believed Penaloza was living. That information was given to Police in Mexico, who located Penaloza and arrested him. He was turned over to the U.S. Marshals and returned to the United States. He has since been booked in the Stanislaus County Jail on the charges of two counts of murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and felon in possession of a firearm.

The Turlock Police Department would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Cortez.

The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program.

Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.

To receive more detailed, up-to-date information directly from the Turlock Police Department via e-mail or text message, register for "Nixle" alerts at or more directly at Or, text your zip code to 888777 to receive text alerts only.

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This information is being released by Turlock Police Department Sergeant Michael Parmley.

Any media requests should contact:
Sergeant Michael Parmley
Office of Professional Standards
Turlock Police Department
Office phone - (209) 664-7345

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