Paulino Guzman III

Guzman, circa 2015; Tai Cruz

  • Missing Since 12/12/2015
  • Missing From Salinas, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race Hispanic
  • Date of Birth 02/02/1997 (27)
  • Age 18 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'10, 180 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description Gray basketball shorts, a sterling silver bracelet, a sterling silver chain necklace and cubic zirconia earrings.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic male. Black hair, brown eyes. Guzman may go by the first name Paul or the nickname Bubba. He has four dots and two bars tattooed under one eye and the letters "ES" tattooed under his other eye.

Details of Disappearance

Guzman was last seen in Salinas, California on December 12, 2015. He was in good spirits at the time and had no apparent plans to leave town. He has never been heard from again.

In January 2017, Tai Agoun Cruz was arrested and charged with Guzman's murder. A photo of Cruz is posted with this case summary. Investigators believe he shot Guzman to death at a party at Harden Ranch Apartments in the 2200 block of north Main Street.

After the shooting, everyone in the apartment fled. An attendee at the party called 911 anonymously, pretending to be a neighbor who had heard the shots. The police went to the apartment, but were unable to speak to anyone, did not actually go inside the apartment and did not see Guzman's remains.

The next day, the same party attendee and other people, including Cruz, returned to the apartment and cleaned it up, including tearing out the carpets. Guzman's body was placed in an opaque Rubbermaid-style plastic bin and taken away from the apartment in a small green vehicle. The torn-out carpet was left behind in bags, and blood samples from it matched Guzman's DNA.

The witness who'd called 911 later said he felt Guzman's killing was wrong, but feared retaliation from fellow gang members if he didn't help cover up the homicide. Guzman, Cruz and the witness were all members of the Salinas East Market faction of the Norteños gang.

In April 2019, Cruz pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The judge who sentenced him pleaded with him to reveal the whereabouts of Guzman's body, but Cruz just answered, "No comment."

Investigators have never found Guzman's remains in spite of extensive searches. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • Salinas Police Department 831-775-4240

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 22, 2022; details of disappearance updated.