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Groom Murdered At His Wedding Reception In Chino; 2 Brothers Arrested

CHINO (CBSLA) – Two brothers have been arrested in the beating death of a groom at his own wedding reception in the early morning hours Sunday in Chino.

Groom Murdered At Chino Wedding Reception, 2 Brothers Arrested
Rony Aristides Castaneda Ramirez, 28, (L) and his brother, Josue Daniel Castaneda Ramirez, 19, were arrested in the beating death of 30-year-old Joe Steven Melgoza at his wedding reception on Dec. 14, 2019. (Chino Police Department)

Twenty-eight-year-old Rony Aristides Castaneda Ramirez and his 19-year-old brother, Josue Daniel Castaneda Ramirez, have been taken into custody in connection with the murder of 30-year-old Joe Steven Melgoza.

According to Chino police, at around 2:20 a.m. Sunday, officers responded to a fight which had allegedly broken out near a wedding reception. They found Melgoza in the backyard of a home a short distance away in the 13200 block of 17th Street with a serious head injury.

He was rushed to Chino Valley Medical Center, where he died.

The Ramirez brothers were identified as the suspects in Melgoza's murder and were arrested just before 2 p.m. Sunday at their home in the 5800 block of Chino Avenue, police said. Both are being jailed without bail.

There was no word on a motive in the killing. The wedding and reception had been held at the home of the bride, now widow, Esther Melgoza. Her family told CBS2 Tuesday that the suspects had crashed the wedding. They said neither Melgoza nor anyone else involved in the wedding knew who they were prior to the attack.

Joe and Esther Melgoza
Joe and Esther Melgoza in an undated photo (Courtesy photo)

A photo Esther posted to social media showed the couple were enjoying the festivities of their special day just hours before he was killed.

"You could see it in his face, how happy he was," Esther told CBS2 Tuesday.  "Just the way he looked at me all day."

Melgoza also leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter. Esther says she's grateful for the time they had together.

"He taught me to be brave," she said. "Thanks to him, I became a wife. Thanks to him, I became a mother."

A GoFundMe page to help raise money for Melgoza's funeral described him as a "loving son, brother, father, cousin, partner, family member and friend." The page had raised more than $28,000.

On Tuesday night, the family held a prayer service for Melgoza at the home.

"Joe was just trying to protect the family, and that's who he was," said a tearful Melissa Bustamante, Esther's younger sister.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation.


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