'The Day That Changed Redlands'
Paula Hernandez' rape and murder in 1977 left a legacy of fear and warning.
- On the 37th anniversary of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old in Redlands who was dragged into an orange grove while walking home from school, the Redlands Daily Facts interviewed the family, the police, the district attorney and the murderer himself. Below is the story of what happened.
- Redlands is a small community, and the residents remember the incident like it was yesterday. Afternoons of playing in the orange groves, which are what defines the town and had always meant home, ended.
- ...tle you were afraid of monsters ! When you got older you didn't know they walked on two feet not 4 ! I wish nothing but pain for those monsters and if there is a hell may he scream from the deepest pit !
- ...then the rape and murder of a young girl wasn't as commonplace as it is now. You see or read about it daily in the news these days. Back then, it didn't occur as frequently, and it didn't occur at all in Redlands. At least that's what it felt like. You knew all your neighbors (we thought), and local business people, that seemed especially true anywhere north of the University, we felt the same about the orange groves. We weren't afraid of them, we all knew someone who had owned one, worked on one, harvesting, smelting, packing oranges, etc. When Paula was killed, it showed us that we were wrong to feel secure here. It was the end of our innocence here, in a way. There had been crime, even murder, in Redlands before, but this was different. Who and where she was, what she was doing, we had all been there dozens or hundreds of times. Her killer randomly chose her for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It easily could have been any of us who regularly walked home through the groves. Or any of us who would have to walk through them again tomorrow. . . .
- We did a story about the impact on the community
- This tragic date is different for Paula's family. The murderer has successfully gotten an early parole hearing, and has gotten the judge to rule that two psych evaluations were falsified. They have been stricken from his file.
- ElKitePics • a day ago
For those of you who weren't here then, or don't remember what happened that day in '77, a little background on the crime that earned Zenc his rightful place in prison is in order.
If the dictionary has a picture accompanying the definition "boogie man", it's the photo at the top of this page.
Paula Hernandez, aged 15 years, was minding her own business. Walking either to or from high school. She's walking along an orange grove when Zenc decided his twisted desires were worth more than the life of someone I understand was a good kid with a good family.
Zenc raped her, and left her to die in an orange grove.
I was 14 then, I remember that time well. There was a monster loose, and he killed a kid in an orange grove.
Orange groves were our playgrounds then, as the whole town was covered with them. ( look around. see all those tracts of houses with matching red tile roofs? those were all orange groves in '77 ) The Paula Hernandez murder hit every kid in town right where we lived.
Zenc has already had his second chance anyway. He was on parole for doing some mean nasty thing to somebody else when he raped Paula. He had convinced the parole board he was worthy of a second chance, and then he repaid society's faith in him by murdering an innocent kid.
Zenc is right where he belongs. He's the reason we have prisons. If we let him go, we may as well tear down a the penitentiaries.
This demon cannot be released! Their are many innocent young children for him to brutally attack! Rape and kill! Zenc you have traumatized my life with your horrible actions! I cannot forget what you did to my friend! She was a beautiful petite fun loving angel! My brother should of stomped you into the ground on Mentone Blvd. the day before you did this to such an innocent young girl!! And, now to find out you lived in my neighborhood! You Beast! I pray that the many people who were blessed to know Paula in her short life, can forgive you!! I will never forget!!!!
- And more important, we told the story of who Paula was.
- Tish Anderson • 14 hours ago
Paula was a very close friend of mine, and also the short lived life she had at Redlands High School. She was a beautiful sweet petite girl! Always smiling and happy! Not a day goes by and I am still traumatized by this gruesome attack on her! My own daughter was raised, not without me talking about this sad horrifying crime! Any youth I talk to, to this day! I ask them to be careful, because of this rape and murder in 1977 in the quaint beautiful town of Redlands!! To such a kind loving sweet friend of mine!! It haunts me so much! I never want to see this person out on the streets, again! I know I am not the only person who cannot forget this! I pray that no such crime will never happen, again! I pray for her family! I hope they have had some kind of peace in their lives, I haven't! I pray for her boyfriend, whom I know still thinks about her! And, must still go over it over and over in his mind!