Jesse Alvarez begged, pleaded, and did everything he could think of to try to win her back, but when his actions moved into stalking, filled with fear, she sought help from the court. She wanted nothing to do with him she said. He had to face the truth: She was gone. Time passed and now she was in love with another man, engaged to be married. He too should have moved on, but according to prosecutors instead he devised a deadly plan.
On February 1, 2021, it is alleged Jesse Alvarez rose at dawn, dressed in all black, and drove to wait silently at the new love’s home. Just after 7:00 a.m. Mario Fierro, a 37-year-old beloved teacher and coach, emerged and Alvarez opened fire again and again, killing him execution style. Did Alvarez see Fierro as his arch nemesis, so filled with burning jealousy he had to destroy him? Or was it the ultimate revenge against his ex-girlfriend, to kill the person she most loved? Whatever way it was, hearts were broken and lives forever shattered at the loss of a kind and loving man. And Mario Fierro by all accounts was an angel on this earth, the absolute best of humanity.
Mario Fierro Was the Absolute Best of Humanity
Mario Fierro was passionate, energetic, dedicated, and had a heart filled with love for all. As a teacher and coach at Cathedral Catholic High School, he had found his calling and was known for caring and truly listening. On the night of his death, one student with tears in his eyes said Mario Fierro believed in him when no one else did. At his memorial service, another student relayed how even though she had gone off to college, when she needed help, she could still contact Coach Fierro and he would be there. It was no wonder the song “Lean On Me” was sung by the students in the service’s final closing. And when the best of humanity is killed, we are left to ask, “Why?” and then to question “How could this have happened?”
Who Is Jesse Alvarez?
As eyes turned toward Jesse Alvarez, facts revealed he was a young man, only 30 years of age, with so much seemingly going for him. As a dual citizen of Peru and the United States, he was highly educated, studying for a master’s degree in International Relations at the University of San Diego and holding a leadership position as vice chair of the Graduate and Law Student Council. He had worked as a computer technician and as an external information specialist. He came from a good family where his parents ran a missionary. He too was deeply religious, faithfully attending the Rock church. Now Jesse Alvarez is charged with first-degree murder, with the special circumstances of lying-in-wait, making him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
People are left to wonder how it came to this. If the horrible facts are true, were signs missed of how dangerous he really was? And why did a judge deny a restraining order against him thirteen months before the fatal ambush? I believe there are lessons to be learned in every case, and through examination of what happened, we can allow society to do better. I decided to look at the legal documents myself. The following is what was set forth in declarations to the Court.
The Request For a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
On December 31, 2019, Alvarez’ ex-girlfriend, who to protect her identity has recently been referred to as Jane Doe, filed a request for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order against him. At the time, she was 27-years-old and Alvarez was 29. In the legal documents she said she dated Alvarez for approximately 3 ½ years and broke-up with him on September 1, 2019. After the breakup, Alvarez’ behavior was “erratic” and “escalated,” and “I am extremely afraid he will harm me,” she wrote.
She also described his behavior during their relationship stating, “He engaged in a pattern of control, manipulation and emotional abuse which increased over time…Attempts to control my relationship with friends and family members (telling me I should not be in contact with them), telling me what I should and should not eat/drink and a few occasions in which he blocked me from leaving his family’s home.”
The Breakup and Threats of Suicide
On September 1, 2019, Alvarez came to Jane Doe’s house where she broke up with him. The process stretched on for hours as he would not accept her decision, begging her to stay. He told her he did not know what he was going to do without her, talked about becoming very depressed, and finally committing suicide. He knew this was a trigger for her as Jane Doe’s father had committed suicide two years before. He finally left the house, but during another discussion that day, he held her hand and would not let her out of the car. She was finally able to break his grip and get out.
Later that night, Jane Doe received a text message from Alvarez which was the same text message her dad had sent right before he committed suicide, of which Alvarez was aware. Afraid for what he would do, she called him. He told her he was going to take his life because she did not love him anymore. He also said, “I know exactly how your Dad felt because you abandoned him and he had no one to help him out in his final moments.”
Another Disturbing Meeting
Four days later, on September 5, 2019, Jane Doe agreed to meet with Alvarez at a restaurant to discuss the breakup because of his threats of suicide. He gave her a nine-page single spaced letter begging her to get back together with him. She told him she did not want to be in a relationship with him and left the restaurant.
Alvarez followed her home and she agreed to let him come inside, solely to use the restroom. When he came out, she was in the kitchen area and he got down onto his knees and begged her to not break up with him. He pleaded with her for approximately 30-45 minutes. He was blocking her path to get out of the kitchen, and she was in fear for her safety because his behavior was “so erratic and unstable.” He finally agreed to leave only after she promised to meet him for coffee the next day. Over the next 24-hours, he contacted her through text, email, WhatsApp, Band, and Gmail chat trying to meet up. She was afraid of what he would do, so she stayed at a co-worker’s house that night.
Security Measures Are Put In Place
Frightened by the events of September 5th, on September 7, 2019, Jane Doe changed the locks to her door and obtained a new parking pass.
On September 8, 2019, Jane Doe had planned to attend a walk for the Survivors of Suicide Loss. At the last minute, she decided not to go as she was afraid Alvarez would show up. He did show up and asked her friends where she was. He stayed at the event and walked with a sign in honor of her father without her permission.
On September 9, 2019, Jane Doe installed cameras at her house.
On September 10, 2019, she sent Alvarez an email telling him very specifically and “in no uncertain terms” that they were officially broken up. She told him she did not want to communicate with him through any means of communication or in person.
Alvarez Tries to Break Into Her Home and Continues His Obsession with Her
On September 11, 2019, wearing sunglasses and a hood over his head, Alvarez attempted to break into her home. He used a key which she believes may have been a copy of her former key. Neighbors told her he had been there the day before.
On September 12, 2019, Jane Doe reported the attempted break-in to police after she watched the surveillance video. She filed a police report, but she did not file for a restraining order as she hoped his threatening behavior would cease.
In October, Alvarez started to cyberstalk her through her mother’s social media account and started following the social media accounts of people and organizations she affiliated with. He also posted photos of them which made it look like they were together.
In November, he contacted her via GChat and told her he missed her and wanted to talk to her.
On November 23, 2019, Jane Doe moved from her former residence. In her declaration she wrote, “I ultimately moved from my former residence on November 23, 2019, because I was afraid of him given he has failed to heed any of my requests to cease contact, attempted to break into my residence and engaged in an ongoing pattern of increasingly erratic behavior.”
On December 3, 2019, Alvarez used his mother’s phone to contact her. Jane Doe picked up believing it was his mother. Realizing it was Alvarez, she told him she did not want to be in contact and to stop trying to reach her.
Between December 10th and December 20th, Jane Doe received approximately 20-30 “unknown” caller IDs that begin with his area code. She had blocked his number, but she believed it was him, as he used this same technique before. He also sent two emails asking to talk to her.
On December 20, 2019, Jane Doe was at California Adventure with her sister when Alvarez showed up and followed her, asking to speak to her privately. He asked her personal questions and inquired about her holiday plans. She and her sister got away from him, but later in the day, he again appeared and tried to talk to her. Feeling unsafe, she left the park.
On December 27, 2019, Alvarez knocked on the door of her former apartment and looked through the windows. He also knocked on the doors of several neighbors looking for her. A former neighbor alerted her through a text.
A Restraining Order Requested and Jesse Alvarez’ Response
Fearing for her safety, Jane Doe turned to the court for help and filed a Request for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order on December 31, 2019. She was granted a temporary restraining order, but only until the court hearing on January 22, 2020, when both parties presented their case. Prior to the hearing, Jesse Alvarez filed a long response, 13 pages in length single spaced in the tiniest font.
Alvarez said Jane Doe’s statements were false, exaggerated, and she lied repeatedly to the court. He wrote she acted out of “spite, hate and malice in order to personally hurt me, damage my reputation, restrict my civil liberties and sabotage my career by blotting my stainless legal record.” He claimed after the first week of the breakup, he ceased contact with her and moved 120 miles away to live with his family. He wrote “I was heartbroken and devastated. I believed her when she said she wanted to remain friends and with the exception of the first few days after our breakup where I pleaded with her to reconsider, I ceased contact with her entirely and gave her close to three months of space, no contact, and moved 120 miles away leaving behind our church and all mutual groups.”
He claimed Jane Doe never told him she wanted a permanent break in communication. Instead, she always maintained she wanted to remain friends he insisted. He denied every instance listed by Jane Doe or provided an alternative explanation. He admitted he tried to open her door, but stated she always entrusted him with a key wherever she lived, and he could come and go as he pleased. He only went to her apartment to drop off items she had requested, to pick up his remaining possessions, and to leave behind the key. The second trip to her apartment was merely to drop off a check for sums he owed her. Other explanations were equally harmless: He was at Disneyland to meet up with his parents to enjoy the final day of his annual pass and he used his mother’s phone as his had malfunctioned. On that call, he told her he was praying for her because it was the anniversary of her father’s suicide. She thanked him for calling and said, “God bless you” he stated.
He declared there was no history of abuse and Jane Doe never feared for her life. In fact, he said he helped her and her family through a “plethora of problems and crises,” for which she was grateful, including her father’s suicide, her alcoholism, and her suicide attempts. He was even a pallbearer at her father’s wake and funeral. He claimed he never controlled her, rather Jane Doe constantly asked him for advice and always invited his input into her decisions.
Alvarez said through their four years of dating, Jane Doe pushed hard for marriage, shared websites of specific engagement rings she wanted, made a vision board of their dream wedding, and signed them up for pre-marriage classes. Right after they finished the classes, he said she dumped him. “I have never experienced a more harsh, extreme, insulting and ugly betrayal as this. I cannot believe she has now decided to go as far as lying to the court, being intentionally dishonest, knowing full well what she is doing, submitting a long set of false statements trying to mischaracterize me as some sort of criminal offender who poses some sort of violent threat to her. I feel so hurt, offended and betrayed now that I no longer want to date her or be her friend,” he wrote.
The Restraining Order Denied
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Daniel Belsky denied Jane Doe’s request for a permanent restraining order. The order reflects:
“Respondent (Alvarez) states he now knows Petitioner (Jane Doe) wants nothing to do with him and he will not contact her in any way…The Court finds both parties to be credible and finds the evidence presented to be a “tie” and the tie would be in favor of Respondent (Alvarez). Based on the totality of the circumstances, Petitioner did not meet her burden of proof that abuse has occurred within the meaning of the Domestic Violence Protection Act. Respondent has stated under oath that he will not contact Petitioner and he will let his family, pastor, and mutual friends not to contact her on his behalf. The Court has heard Respondent, under oath, and believes him to be sincere. The Court believes emotions were running high at the time of Petitioner wanting to end their relationship that lasted 4 years and he did not see coming and he needed time to process the hurt and the reality the relationship was over.”
The burden of proof for a permanent restraining order is preponderance of evidence, meaning Jane Doe had to prove there was a greater than 50% chance that her claim was true. In simply terms, at least 51% of the evidence had to favor Jane Doe. Judge Belsky found it did not. In fact, he found it favored Alvarez.
Judge Belsky ruled Jane Doe did not meet “her burden of proof that abuse has occurred within the meaning of the Domestic Violence Act.” Under this act, abuse does not have to be physical harm or threats of harm, but encompasses a wide array of behavior, including harassment, following, and stalking, which Jane Doe raised.
Family Code sections 6203 and 6320 give complete definitions of abuse and the words on the Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order provide, “Abuse means to intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury to you; or to place you or another person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or to harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (sexually or otherwise), hit, follow, stalk, molest, keep you under surveillance, impersonate (on the Internet, electronically or otherwise), batter, telephone, or contact you; or to disturb your peace; or to destroy your personal property.”
Jesse Alvarez convinced Judge Belsky he had not committed abuse and would not contact Jane Doe in any way. But would this be the case?
More Disturbing Behavior Discovered
According to an investigation by NBC, Jesse Alvarez remained fixated on Jane Doe. The NBC team reported the following: Only one month after the restraining order hearing, Alvarez walked onto the Cathedral Catholic High School campus where Jane Doe and Mario Fierro both worked. As his picture had been provided to security and school officials, the principal told him he could not be there, and he was escorted off campus. Next, he tried working with a vendor who did business with the school. Again, he was escorted off campus. Then a week before the shooting, he appeared in a video clip by the school’s weekly news program, conducting himself as if he were a student at the school. Jesse Alvarez, 30 years old, was definitely not a high school student. You may read the entire NBC article at: https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/north-park-murder-suspect-escorted-off-cathedral-catholic-high-campus-months-before-teachers-killing/2517826/
Haunting Words From a Shattered Jane Doe
Tragically, no one stopped Jesse Alvarez. If he is indeed guilty, the rage built inside of him, until he took an innocent life. Although a restraining order will not keep one safe from a person bent on deadly destruction, Jane Doe feels the legal system failed her. Following the murder of her beloved fiancée, at the first court hearing for Jesse Alvarez, Deputy District Attorney Ramona McCarthy read the words of a shattered Jane Doe, “I stand before you a victim of the court when I sought to protect myself in January 2020 and my cries for help were wrongfully denied…I stand before you grief-stricken and heartbroken over the murder of my fiancé, Mario Fierro, who was the true love of my life.” Her haunting words continued, “I stand before you hoping this time to be taken seriously.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, you may seek help at The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233).
About Aleida K. Wahn, Esq.
I am an attorney, award-winning true crime writer, and legal analyst of criminal cases. I cover criminal trials and write stories and books about compelling, gripping, and unforgettable cases that impact our world. I take you into the courtroom in high-profile murder trials, rape cases, crimes of passion, cases involving mental illness, deviant behavior, and more. I have a deep passion for true crime, criminal law, and all aspects of the criminal justice system. I have appeared as an expert on true crime shows, including “48 Hours,” “Snapped,” and “The Dead Files,” and provided legal analysis on high-profile criminal trials on Court TV, the Law & Crime Trial Network, Fox 5 News, ABC 10 News, and KUSI News. I also create and host shows with the Del Mar Television Producers Group, addressing criminal justice and social issues in recent criminal trials.
I provided my insight and legal analysis on Court TV and the Law & Crime Trial Network of the high-profile trial of former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. It was a trial that captured the nation as the heralded ex-football star with fame, fortune, and a famous name stood accused of multiple rapes and other sex crimes involving five women. As the trial delved into shocking facts, complicated legal issues, and unexpected twists and turns, I was there for every minute. After the trial, I wrote a book on the case, going behind the headlines to share the extraordinary details of what happened inside the courtroom. Judging Winslow Jr.: From NFL Star to Serial Rapist? Inside the Shocking Rape Trial of Kellen Boswell Winslow II is now available on Amazon.
I am passionate about telling true crime stories, as these penetrating stories have the power to move us all, while highlighting societal issues which need to be addressed. I have personally seen the human devastation which is present in each trial and believe there is a lesson to be learned in every single case. It is through awareness and examining critical issues society can effect change and even make new laws. To learn more, please visit: https://www.aleidalaw.com.
Read about the gripping and unforgettable trials that I have covered in my latest books: