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HesperiaStar.com
  • COLD CASE

    Man arrested in connection to 2011 murder

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  • APPLE VALLEY — A former Apple Valley physician’s assistant is expected to be arraigned on a murder charge Thursday after he was arrested in connection to the death of his girlfriend in 2011.
    Rhonda Desha McClain, 41, was found unresponsive in the bathtub of her boyfriend’s home on March 7, 2011 in Apple Valley, McClain’s mother Penny Adams said. She said McClain’s boyfriend was Rafael Chavez, 50, a former physician’s assistant.
    Adams told the Daily Press that the coroner’s report initially listed the cause of death as drowning, but she said she believed Chavez killed McClain and called for a review of the report.
    Four days after her daughter was found dead, Adams found a text on McClain’s phone saying that McClain was planning to leave Chavez. She said the review board then changed the cause of death to “undetermined,” and the Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the case since 2011.
    “I had to fight,” Adams said. “I picketed the (Sheriff’s) Department ... I promised my daughter that I would get him.”
    Adams said a petition was made to revoke Chavez’s PA license in February 2013. The California Department of Consumer Affairs license database shows Chavez had been employed at Central Desert Industrial Medical Group in Apple Valley until his license was officially revoked on June 19.
    The department website said the license has been revoked “as a result of disciplinary action rendered by the board.” He is not currently permitted to practice medicine.
    On Tuesday, Chavez was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto on $100,000 bail, jail records show. He is expected to be arraigned in Victorville on Thursday afternoon.
    “Initially I was excited, I was glad,” Adams said of the arrest. “It’s been hard the last 24 hours ... The reality is that even though he’s in jail, she’s still not here. It doesn’t change that.”  
    Adams said McClain leaves behind four siblings, two daughters and two grandchildren.
    “We lost a lot,” Adams said.
    Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.
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