Police still searching for answers in Norco murder
21-year-old was shot dead in apartment
Jay Bertucci was shot to death in his Norco apartment in Dec. 2012. No one has yet been arrested for his murder.
In a press release that came out right after the murder, the Sheriff’s Office said Bertucci had opened the door of his apartment to discover three black males with coverings on their faces. One of the men held up a gun and Bertucci struggled with him before being shot in the chest.
Bertucci’s mother, Misty Darr, said her son had $700 on him on the day of the murder and that several people knew he was carrying cash. She believes he was killed by an acquaintance.
Between the time of his death and the time the Sheriff’s Office showed up, Darr also said other belongings had been stolen out of her son’s apartment, including his TV.
In addition, Darr said the witnesses who were present at the time of the murder changed their stories multiple times after her son’s death.
Darr feels the Sheriff’s Office, outside of Det. Joe Dewhirst who has been assigned the case, has not done enough to try and solve the crime.
“Me and the detective are the only ones who are trying to find out who did it,” she said. “Everyone else has given up.”
Sheriff Greg Champagne said that his office has worked exceptionally hard to try and find out who is responsible for the murder.
“We have interviewed dozens of witnesses. I am estimating 30 to 40 witnesses. We have done a complete door-to-door canvas of the neighborhood, including flyers, three times,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office has also submitted suspects to lie detector tests. However, not enough evidence has been found to make an arrest.
“We do have some suspects but we don’t have enough evidence,” Champagne said.
Ten months later, Champagne said his office is still looking for the piece of the puzzle that will lead to a successful arrest and conviction.
“Sometimes you just need that break,” he said. “We are still hoping.”
Darr said Bertucci had a rough childhood. She lost custody of him at a young age and he grew up with his father who she said was conected to drug activity involving methamphetamines.
Bertucci, who was 21 at the time of his death, was heavily involved in drugs and Darr said he had been selling marijuana.
“I tried to get him a roofing job with his uncle, but he said he could make more money in one day selling (marijuana) than he could in a week roofing,” she said.
Investigators believe that Bertucci’s death was tied to drugs, but Champagne said that has not caused his office to reduce their investigative efforts.
“Most of the murders we have involve narcotics trafficking in some shape or form,” he said.
Bertucci had a daughter shortly before his death and his mother said he was trying to turn his life around. However, drugs proved to be too hard for him to give up and he eventually started doing heroin. Darr said she thought about turning her son in to the police, but didn’t follow through with it.
“I mean it’s my kid. I didn’t like what he was doing, but I also didn’t want him to get into trouble,” she said. “Here I am worrying about him going to jail and two weeks later he is dead.”
(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained a photo of Jay Bertucci and a woman identified as his mother Misty Darr. The woman in the photo was not in fact Misty Darr.)
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