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California Woman, Boyfriend Charged In 'Sibling Rivalry' Murder Of Her Sister And Newborn Niece

Yanelly Solorio-Rivera and her newborn daughter, Celine, were allegedly murdered in their sleep by her sister, Yarelly Solorio-Rivera, and Yerelly's boyfriend, Martin Arroyo-Morales, in September.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A California woman and her boyfriend have been arrested after allegedly confessing to gunning down her sister and her newborn niece more than a month ago.

Yarelly Solorio-Rivera, 22, and Martin Arroyo-Morales, 26, were charged with murder in the September slaying of 18-year-old Yanelly Solorio-Rivera, 18, and her 3-week-old daughter, Celine Solorio Rivera, the Fresno Police Department said at a press conference on Thursday.

The California mother was shot and killed while she slept holding her young child, who was also shot, officials said. 

“We saw no remorse whatsoever, no guilt, no apprehension,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama stated. “I’ve never seen something like this.”

Yarelly Solorio-Riviera and Arroyo-Morales had initially denied involvement in the double murder, but allegedly admitted to carrying out the grisly killings on Wednesday, Balderrama said.

On Sept. 24, authorities were dispatched to a property in the 2500 block of South Fruit Avenue at around 7:20 a.m. after reports of several gunshots. Upon arrival, authorities made contact with Yanelly Solorio-Rivera’s family, who told officers they’d heard gunshots coming from a bedroom inside the home. Once inside the residence, investigators found both mother and infant daughter with gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.

Police handouts of Yanelly and Celine Solorio-Rivera

The two were pronounced dead at the scene. 

“The murder scene was dramatic for all officers, detectives, EMS personnel and crime scene technicians who responded to the scene,” Balderrama told reporters. “The crime left us all feeling perplexed and very angry, asking ourselves, 'Who would do something like this? Who would murder an 18-year-old mother and her 3-week-old daughter while they slept?'”

At the time, detectives didn’t observe any signs of forced entry at the home, the Fresno Bee reported. The residence’s home surveillance system also seemed to have malfunctioned due to a “connectivity issue,” preventing investigators from accessing any video from the time of the double homicide.

For weeks, no arrests were made in the killing. Authorities, who offered a $25,000 reward, eventually released surveillance footage and photographs of the suspected killer after sourcing recordings from nearby homeowners and businesses.

Police handout of Yanelly Soloria-Rivera and Martin Arroyo-Morales

Authorities later said they’d identified the individual on the surveillance recordings as Arroyo-Morales, who they described as "gang-affiliated." 

"And that is when the lies, the deception and the evil intentions surrounding this case began to unravel," Balderrama added.

Arroyo-Morales and Yarelly Solorio-Rivera allegedly admitted to the double murder under additional police questioning. 

"They confessed to the crime and led detectives to the whereabouts of the murder weapon," Balderrama also said. 

“We have the murder weapon — a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun,” he added. “And we have a motive – jealousy and sibling rivalry.”

Authorities haven’t specified who may have pulled the trigger in the double murders. 

Yanelly Soloria-Rivera and Martin Arroyo-Morales Murder Weapon

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said the couple’s charges will be upgraded to special circumstances, which carries the possibility of life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Yarelly Solorio-Rivera grew up in Fresno. Friends and family held a vigil for the slain mother and her daughter in September, the Fresno Bee reported.

Yarelly Solorio-Rivera and Arroyo-Morales are currently being held on a $2 million bail, according to Fresno television station KFSN-TV. They’re expected to appear in court on Monday.