Wheeling Fugitive Suspected of Fatally Running Down Man on Equestrian Drive Near Elmhurst Rd Captured in La Porte County, Indiana

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez (SOURCE: La Porte County Sheriff's Office Indiana)
Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez (SOURCE: La Porte County Sheriff's Office Indiana).

A Wheeling male resident suspected of fatally running down a man in a stolen SUV Wednesday May 20, 2020 was arrested early Wednesday June 17, 2020 following a police chase of a stolen vehicle in La Porte County in northern Indiana, Wheeling police announced Friday morning.

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez, 38, is accused of running down Carlos Maciel Pulido, age 32, also a resident of Wheeling.

Wheeling Homicide investigation on Equestrian Drive after Hit-and-Run crash just east of Elmhurst Road.

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez of the block of 400 Pleasant Run Drive has been a fugitive since the death of 32-year-old Carlos Maciel Pulido, who died at the scene when Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez stalked Carlos Maciel Pulido, stole a vehicle that was available nearby, ran down the victim, and killed him as dragged him and crashed the stolen Toyota Highlander into a house on Equestrian Drive just east of Elmhurst Road. Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez fled on foot and was only sighted once in the area near Rand Road and Route 53 sometime between May 20 and May 22, 2020. Wheeling Police Department did not release a specific date and time when the sighting occurred.

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez had no vehicle because he totaled a minivan he was driving in Arlington Heights at a DUI crash on Arlington Heights Road near Appletree Lane on Sunday May 3, 2020 about 4:33 p.m. He fled on foot from that scene also, but he was immediately captured by Arlington Heights police officers near Sunset Drive and Pine Avenue.

Driver flees on foot after crashing minivan into a tree, bouncing the minivan back into traffic where it got hit by another vehicle on southbound Arlington Heights Road between Appletree Lane and Techny Road (17 days before homicide hit-and-run).

Zavala-Hernandez was driving a Toyota Sienna minivan southbound on Arlington Heights Road when the minivan left the roadway and traveled up the parkway and hit a tree. The impact caused the minivan to spin around and bounce back into traffic facing the wrong way in the southbound lanes. The Toyota Sienna was then hit by a gray Chrysler sedan during the alleged DUI crash.

The Chrysler sedan was driven by a male adult. Initially, there were no injuries reported in the crash.




The right rear of the minivan was severely damage by the impact with the tree. As the minivan came to rest after bouncing back into traffic, the Chrysler sedan impacted the right front wheel and fender of the minivan. Zavala-Hernandez fled from his damaged and disabled vehicle, and was arrested minutes later.

Initially no homicide charges were filed after the arrest in Indiana.

Zavala-Hernandez and Pulido were friends, but they had a disagreement stemming from a violent domestic confrontation on May 17, 2020, according to Wheeling Police Department Deputy Police Chief Joseph Licari. Zavala-Hernandez attacked a woman, cut off a Cook County-issued ankle monitor (following the DUI crash in Arlington Heights).

Zavala-Hernandez was wearing the ankle monitor after being released from custody on pending charges related to the Arlington Heights crash …

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Aggravated DUI/No Driver’s License

Driving on a Suspended/Revoked License

Driver’s License Revoked or Suspended

Leaving the Scene of a Vehicle Damage Crash

Operating an Uninsured Vehicle

Obstructing Identification

DUI/Alcohol

Resisting a peace officer

A nationwide arrest warrant on a domestic battery charge May 17, 2020 Wheeling case was later issued for Zavala-Hernandez.

Fast forward to this week in June 2020, Zavala-Hernandez was arrested in LaPorte County, Indiana after a report about 1:26 a.m. Wednesday June 17, 2020 of a road rage incident in the area of US 20 and US 35. A female reported that the driver of a white pickup truck was attempting to force her vehicle off the roadway while traveling along I-94. A La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy observed a pickup truck matching the description exit I-94 onto US 20 and travel eastbound at an excessive rate of speed.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy began to travel eastbound on US 20 behind the pickup truck. He attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but the driver of the pickup truck failed to stop, and a motor vehicle pursuit ensued. The vehicle pursuit continued eastbound along US 20 to the “dogbone” interchange. The pickup truck exited at the interchange and began to travel west on SR 2. Near the intersection of SR 2 and CR 150 East, a La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy set up a set of tire deflation devices. The pickup truck ran over the tire deflation devices and began to quickly slow down while passing through the Fail Road intersection.




At approximately 1:37 AM, the pickup truck slowed to a stop on SR 2 near Whitehead Road. For several minutes, deputies gave loud verbal commands for the driver to exit the pickup truck. However, the driver refused and failed to comply. Therefore, a chemical agent was introduced into the interior of the pickup truck. Shortly thereafter, the driver exited and was taken into custody.

The driver falsely identified himself as Paco Libra (age 40). The driver, not yet correctly identified as Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez, was transported to the La Porte County Jail (LCJ). He was arrested for the following offenses (see box).

Initial La Porte County Sheriffs Office Charges:

Resisting Law Enforcement, Level 6 Felony

Criminal Recklessness, Level 6 Felony

Resisting Law Enforcement, Class A-Misdemeanor

Operating While Never Licensed, C-Misdemeanor

La Porte County Sheriff’s Office: “Arrests and criminal charges are mere accusations. Every person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez was initially housed in the La Porte County Jail and was initially held on a $755.00 cash bond through La Porte County Circuit Court, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, which shortly learned of the suspect’s true identity and his nationwide warrant for domestic battery.

Zavala-Hernandez was also driving a vehicle reported stolen in Indiana when he was apprehended, according to the Wheeling Police Department. Initially there was no extradition, and Wheeling police detectives arrived in La Porte County, Indiana to interview Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez.

Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez (SOURCE: La Porte County Sheriff's Office Indiana)
Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez (SOURCE: La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Indiana).




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Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez, Wheeling homicide suspect
Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez, Wheeling homicide suspect
Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez crash in Arlington Heights on Sunday May 3, 2020
Jose Fermin Zavala-Hernandez DUI crash in Arlington Heights on Sunday May 3, 2020.

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