KERN COUNTY: The fertile Kern Valley of California has never been witness to a darker deed than on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. On this shameful night, a young lady named Erika Lango was murdered and dumped into the shallow waters of the Friant-Kern Canal.
ERIKA LANGO, 26, worked as a dental assistant to support her four beautiful children. She was married to the children’s father, Julio Lango. Erika was loved by many in the small community of Delano, an agricultural suburb of Bakersfield, located in the famous “grape belt” of California.
HISTORY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: As it happens, just weeks before she went missing, Erika filed a restraining order and spousal battery charges against her husband, Julio, a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq. It appears that Erika and Julio were headed for divorce.
Erika’s mother, Esther Padron, stated that her son-in-law, Julio Lango, had called her the morning after Erika’s disappearance to announce that Erika had not come home. Julio claimed that he and Erika were having drinks together at her apartment when an argument insued between them. With that, Julio said that Erika walked out the door at 10 p.m. to go visit a friend, on foot, and hadn’t returned.
When Esther heard Julio’s account of what had happened, she immediately called authorities to report her daughter missing. Esther and family members examined the couple’s SUV to see if anything looked unusual. Peering into the window of the SUV, dark red spots came into focus. Two spots, to be exact, that looked like drops of blood on the center console. Also in plain sight, a baseball bat and a pink sweater that Erika was wearing the night before. Later that day, the SUV was impounded by Delano Police to be thoroughly inspected for evidence.
By this time, Erika’s family was in a state of alert, disturbed by the fact that Julio had been at Erika’s apartment, in direct violation of the restraining order she had filed with Kern County. In addition, Julio’s story of Erika “walking to a friends house” sounded unbelievable. Her family found it odd for Erika to walk anywhere and stated they couldn’t imagine her doing so, especially in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the “friend”, who Erika allegedly walked to visit, admitted having no plans to see her that night, when questioned by police.
MISSING PERSONS SEARCH: The agonizing search for Erika began. Prayers for her safety weighted the hearts of family members and concerned Delano residents. Facts were uncovered by day, while vigils were held by night.
Shortly after the investigation began, a video tape from the local a.m./ p.m. mini mart was recovered by police. This discovery put Julio Lango at odds with his own story of the night in question. Video footage from Oct. 9 shows Erika making a purchase at 10:29 p.m. wearing the same pink sweater that was found in the SUV the next day. She then leaves the market and waits by the SUV. Julio enters the drivers side of vehicle and drives away with Erika Lango.
This was the last time Erika was seen alive.
JULIO LANGO was arrested for violating the restraining order Erika had filed prior to her disappearance, as was evidenced in the video obtained from the a.m./ p.m. mini mart. At this point, The Delano Police Department officially named Julio Lango a person of interest in the case. Eventually, Julio was also charged with spousal battery in Kern County Superior Court on Oct. 31, 2013, despite Erika’s absence in the courtroom.
November came and went, no sign of Erika.
Sadly, on Dec. 3, an employee of the Friant-Kern Irrigation District, discovered a human body floating in the 152 mile-long canal. The Delano Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office were called to recover the remains.
Hearts were breaking as the body of a young citizen was pulled from the waters of The Friant-Kern. With unspeakable sadness, her identity was confirmed to be Erika Lango.
Erika’s murder remains unsolved.
If you have any information regarding the unsolved murder of Erika Padron Lango, please contact the Delano Police Department at 661-721-3377.
True Crime California offers it’s deepest sympathy and prayers for the loved ones of Erika Lango. TCC will continue posting updates until Justice is served. True Love Never Dies.
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Written by Chandler Vaughn
Note: “Persons of interest” in any criminal investigation are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.