Murder suspect’s remains found off La Jolla coast


The remains of Ismael Lopez, wanted in the September 28 murder of Mir Sahou, have been recovered off the coast of La Jolla.

On the evening of September 28, Mr. Sahou was working as a self-employed cab driver when he picked up Lopez at an unknown location. The cab stopped in the 8600 block of La Jolla Scenic Drive North, where Lopez allegedly shot Mr. Sahou to death. Lopez fled in the cab, which he abandoned in the 1200 block of Coast Boulevard in downtown La Jolla. Paint transfer on the cab matched marks on the wooden fence above the ocean, leading investigators to conclude Lopez jumped the curb by accident or contemplated driving the cab into the ocean.

On October 24, 2011, a recreational diver saw what appeared to be human bones in an underwater reef, approximately 150 yards off the beach near the 200 block of Coast Boulevard (approximately one mile from 1200 Coast Boulevard). San Diego Lifeguard Services divers and San Diego Police Dive Rescue Team members searched for the bones, but did not find them. On November 15, a second diver found bones off the shore, in the same general area as the first report, and turned them over to police.

Three subsequent dives by public safety personnel produced additional bones, including part of a skull with a bullet hole in it. The Medical Examiner’s Office examined the bones while the department’s Crime Lab extracted DNA from them. Yesterday, the Crime Lab determined that the bones were those of fugitive Ismael Lopez.

The Sahou and Lopez families have been notified of the finding.

Due to the state of the bones, it was impossible to determine if the gun that caused the Lopez’s head wound was the same one used to kill the taxi driver, SDPD homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said adding police have not recovered a firearm in the case.

Homicide detectives will continue to work with the medical examiner to determine if Lopez committed suicide or died in some other manner.

Investigators have found no evidence that the alleged killer and the victim had met prior to the night of the slaying, when Sahou presumably picked up Lopez as a fare, the lieutenant said.

Residents of the neighborhood where the slaying occurred reported hearing men loudly arguing in what sounded like a foreign language before gunshots rang out, according to police.

— City News Service and Police reports