BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - New information about a local family who gained notoriety for a shocking murder for hire years ago. In 2014, Jonathan Dean was murdered, police say by teenagers hired by his adoptive father. Now, Jonathan Dean's brother, Nicholas Dean, is also the victim of a homicide, while he was in the custody of his adoptive sister.
The homicide wasn't reported to the public and the killers remain at large. The Bakersfield Police Department has kept their investigation quiet. But documents 17 News uncovered, describe the latest tragedy in a large foster family.
Now, two brothers, once called lucky for being placed in the same foster home and then both adopted by the same family, are both dead.
Court documents say on March 1, a wheel chair bound man with cerebral palsy named Nicholas Dean, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. In the 911 call, Nicholas Dean's sister, Jessica Dean is frantic and screams when she realizes he isn't breathing. Only paramedics got the call, so law enforcement never showed up to locate a crime scene.
Several weeks later, Nicholas Dean's autopsy revealed he was the victim of a homicide. The coroner said he had unusual abrasions and scratches to his head and neck, and serious internal damage to his mouth and throat. The coroner said the only way anyone would get those injuries was through strangulation.
A toxicology report also revealed Nicholas Dean "was given a nonlethal dose of vicodin, and a potentially lethal dose of heroin", documents say.
Other family members told investigators that Jessica Dean, Nicholas Dean's adoptive sister, was in charge of administrating medication to the disabled man.
Jessica and her live-in boyfriend, Michael Hernandez, were Nicholas Dean's caretakers, and the only people home when he died.
Hernandez told investigators he was the last person to see the handicapped man alive. He said he noticed Nicholas Dean needed medical aid, so he said he put his hand around his throat while giving him CPR.
A BPD search warrant says Hernandez later changed his story and said Jessica Dean had choked the man hours before his death.
This isn't the first time the Dean family has been embroiled in a murder investigation. In 2014, Nicholas Dean's biological brother, Jonathan Dean, was murdered, police say by teenage hit-men, who were hired by Nicholas and Jonathan's adoptive father, George Dean. It later came out that George Dean was having a sexual relationship with the teen who pulled the trigger, killing Jonathan Dean.
After George Dean was arrested, Jonathan Dean's disabled brother, Nicholas Dean, was placed into the care of his adoptive sister, Jessica Dean.
We went to the home where Nicholas Dean died in March, but we were told that Jessica Dean and Michael Hernandez no longer live there. The new occupants said the couple left the night of Nicholas Dean's death, and left behind all their belongings.
We also reached out to Jessica Dean through social media, but didn't hear back. Sergeant Ryan Kroeker of the Bakersfield Police Department says this investigation is on-going, and detectives have leads and suspects, and right now they're trying to fit all the pieces together.
BPD has also submitted the case to the district attorney's office, who's reviewing their findings.
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