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  • CRIMINAL COURTS

    Arraignment delayed in 2011 murder

    Sheriff's officials release statement on arrest
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  • APPLE VALLEY — San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials released further information Thursday about the case against a former Apple Valley physician’s assistant arrested in connection to the 2011 death of his girlfriend.
    Meanwhile, the expected arraignment of Rafael Chavez, 50, was continued to Friday, court records show.
    Chavez was arrested on suspicion of murder around 4 p.m. on Tuesday following an interview with sheriff’s investigators at the Apple Valley Sheriff’s Station.
    Sheriff’s officials said Chavez called 911 on March 7, 2011 around 5:50 p.m. to report that he found his girlfriend, Rhonda McClain, 41, of Apple Valley, submerged and unresponsive in their bathtub. Authorities said first responders were suspicious of the circumstances and called homicide investigators to assist with the investigation.
    According to Sheriff’s officials, the autopsy revealed McClain had elevated levels of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in her system and the cause of death was probable drowning.
    Penny Adams, McClain’s mother, told the Daily Press she was suspicious and believed Chavez was somehow responsible once she found a text on her daughter’s phone saying she was planning to leave Chavez.
    Adams said she pushed for a review board to look into the report and had the cause of death changed to “undetermined.”
    “I had to fight,” Adams told the Daily Press on Wednesday.
    The Sheriff’s Department had been investigating the case since 2011.
    The California Department of Consumer Affairs license database reports Chavez had his PA license revoked on June 19. Adams said he was employed at Central Desert Industrial Medical Group in Apple Valley until his license was revoked.  
    Anyone with information regarding the investigation is urged to call Sgt. John Gaffney or Detective Jerry Davenport at 909-387-3589. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at 800-78-CRIME (27463) or leave information on the WeTip Hotline at www.wetip.com.
    Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.
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