‘900 days’ witness: ‘Don’t know if it was blood’

Benito Vasquez-Hernandez held without charge in case against his son

Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, 59, has been held as a material witness in jail for nearly 900 days. (Washington Co. Sheriff's Office)
Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, 59, has been held as a material witness in jail for nearly 900 days. (Washington Co. Sheriff's Office)

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN 6) — After being held 900 days as a material witness in a murder case against his son, Benito Vasquez-Hernandez took the stand and testified he never saw blood on his son’s car.

After he finished his often-times combative testimony, he was released as a material witness.

Once on the stand, the 59-year-old Washington County man denied many of the things police said they had him on tape telling police.

Prosecutors are trying to convince a jury of eight women and four men that Eloy Vasquez-Santiago killed Maria Bolanos-Rivera, a widowed mother of six who has been missing since August 2012.

Maria Bolanos-Rivera, seen in an undated photo, was last seen in 2012 and is presumed dead, though her body has never been found. March 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Maria Bolanos-Rivera, seen in an undated photo, was last seen in 2012 and is presumed dead, though her body has never been found. March 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

The testimony

He described himself as “a worker in the fields” whose wife and nine children live in Madera.

When District Attorney Jeff Lesowski asked him if he knew why he was in court, Vasquez-Hernandez said, “I don’t understand why I’m here. I support my family.”

He was asked when the last time he spoke with his son, defendant Eloy Vasquez-Santiago, he said, “I haven’t spoken with him. He lives by himself with his woman.”

Answering questions, he said he moved from Oregon to California when he got a call from one of his daughter’s teachers, but denied it had anything to do with his son Eloy.

“Please tell the jury what you saw in Eloy’s hand the morning you left for California,” Lesowski said.

“In the hand?” Vasquez-Hernandez said. “I don’t know anything. I never saw anything.”

Eloy Vasquez-Santiago is accused of killing Maria Bolanos-Rivera, who was last seen in 2012 and is presumed dead. Her body has never been found. March 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Eloy Vasquez-Santiago is accused of killing Maria Bolanos-Rivera, who was last seen in 2012 and is presumed dead. Her body has never been found. March 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

He continued to deny he saw anything, then said, “I’m not understanding. My ears are clogged.”

Lesowski then asked him to describe what he saw outside of his son Moises’ van. “Was it blood?”

“I don’t know if it was blood or if it was paint,” Vasquez-Hernandez said. “The girl sometimes plays with paint. We didn’t see anything in the car.”

The DA asked what color was the substance and said, “You told them (the police) it was blood, sir. Correct?”

“No, I didn’t say that. That’s just lies. I didn’t say it was blood.”

“Did you know the police tape-recorded your conversation?”

“Yes,” he said. “I recall and I said nothing.”

“Sir, it’s on a tape recording. It’s undeniable.”

Vasquez-Hernandez also denied seeing a bloody knife in his son’s hand, denied seeing blood on his son and denied saying much of anything to the police.

“The officers saying a lot of things,” he said. “I told them I didn’t know anything.”

Vasquez-Hernandez said he’s been held “two years here and I haven’t done anything.”

When the DA said he told police his son “told me he killed the lady,” Vasquez-Hernandez responded quickly.

“That is a lie.”

His release

Vasquez-Hernandez had been held for more than 900 days as a material witness in the 2012 murder case that finally went to trial earlier this week. After the paperwork was processed, he was given checks totaling $5985 — $7.50 per day for each of 798 days held in Oregon — for his part in the material witness program. The money comes from the District Attorney’s budget.

A Washington County deputy then drove him to an undisclosed location that he chose.

Follow KOIN 6 News reporter Tim Becker on Twitter

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Comments are closed.