Nipomo brothers accused of committing Santa Maria murder

Rafael Santiago Lopez

A pair of brothers living in Nipomo are alleged to have committed a murder in Santa Maria early Saturday morning in which a 49-year-old man was shot and stabbed to death. One of the brothers, who is currently on the run, is wanted for an additional three Santa Maria murders.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday, Cruz Alberto Chavez Sandoval was shot and stabbed in the area of Sunrise Drive and Bradley Road. Sandoval died at the scene.

On Tuesday morning, the Santa Maria Police Department SWAT Team, along with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies, served a search and arrest warrant at a home in the 400 block of Orchard Road in Nipomo. Officers located Franklin Edgar Lopez, 27, and arrested him for the murder of Sandoval.

Franklin Edgar Lopez

Investigators failed to locate Lopez’s brother, Rafael Santiago Lopez, 23. Rafael Lopez is likewise sought for a 2015 double homicide and a 2016 murder.

The first killing occurred on Dec. 26, 2015 in the area of East Jewel and North Vine Street in Santa Maria. Two men, Ramiro Ceja Gonzalez and Manuel Manzano Mata, were both shot multiple times and died of their injuries.

On July 4, 2016, Bernardino DeJesus died after being shot in the 400 block of North Oakley. The murder of DeJesus reportedly occurred at a 4thof July block party.

Investigations into each of the homicide cases are ongoing. Anyone who has information about the murders is asked to call the detective bureau at (805) 928-3781 x 2278 or the police department tip line at (805) 928-3781 x 2677.

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