Suspect Named in Murder Investigation

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, September 3 2013 at 6:05 PM, Updated: Tue, September 3 2013 at 7:37 PM

On Tuesday, Medford Police said a murder suspect is on the loose and they need the public's help to track him down.

Investigators at the Medford Police Department are on the hunt for 45-year-old Jose Valencia-Gaona.

"He is wanted for murder, we will arrest him and we're looking for the public's help in this," said Medford Police Chief Tim George at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

"We've spent extensive time, energy and effort trying to locate this individual in the past 24-hours and we continue to do that now."

Valencia-Gaona is the man police believe was involved in the stabbing death of 38-year-old Maria Rodriguez on Sunday night.

"We believe that based on the information obtained yesterday afternoon [and] yesterday evening, that he is still in the west Medford area specifically west of Columbus and McAndrews and has been seen frequenting that area on foot," said George.

Authorities said the suspect was last seen wearing a white shirt, but could have changed clothing. Police are looking for tips as they try to track down where Valencia-Gaona is hiding out or even information on where he's stopping to eat or drink.

Police said on Sunday night, Valencia-Gaona laid in wait for Maria Rodriguez to come home, then stabbed her to death.

"This is what I would consider to be a domestic violence homicide," began George.

"This individual did know this victim, had some type of prior relationship [...] You can describe it as stalking."

According to police there was no restraining order against Valencia-Gaona but one neighbor we spoke with said Maria expressed concern about him.

In addition, police said Valencia-Gaona does not have a criminal record.

For now, authorities have notified agencies along the I-5 corridor and the search goes on. Police said  the suspect has lived in the Medford area for the last 4-5 years. While authorities said he doesn't have a car, that doesn't stop him from riding in one.

"We've been close within about 30-40 minutes. So close doesn't count on this one. Either you have someone in custody or you don't," said George.

"He's out there and we gotta think catch until we catch," he continued.

Police said they are in possession of what they believe is the weapon that was used to kill Maria Rodriguez. While there's always a threat when a murder suspect is on the loose, they don't believe Valencia-Gaona will act violently toward any particular person at this time since they say he was involved in a targeted attack.

If you see Valencia-Gaona or know his whereabouts call police immediately at 541-770-4783.

Medford police want to remind the public that anyone who helps Valencia-Gaona could be subjected to criminal charges.

An autopsy for Maria Rodriguez was scheduled for Tuesday.

***Look below for a link to the video of the entire news conference***

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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