The Crimes of Maria del Rosio Alfaro

Abused as a Child, Drug Addict at 12, Mother at 14, Killer at 18

California Death Row Inmate Rosie Alfaro. Mug Shot

María del Rosio Alfaro, also known as Rosie Alfaro, is a convicted murderer currently on death row in California for the June 15, 1990, murder of Autumn Wallace, age 9, in Anaheim, California.

The Crime

In June 1990, Rosie Alfaro was 18 years old, a drug addict and the mother of two and pregnant with twins. She was living in a home in Anaheim with a relative of the father of the twins, which was three blocks from the Wallace home.

Alfaro was a high school friend of Autumn's older sister April and had stayed with the Wallace family during her second pregnancy. However, in 1989, April began to distance herself from Alfaro, other than to occasionally give her a ride when asked.

On June 15, 1990, Autumn was home from school early. The school was having "early day" and recessed at 2:35 p.m. Autumn's mother, Linda Wallace, and April were at work and were not expected home until around 5 p.m. Autumn entertained herself by cutting out paper dolls.

On the same day, Rosie Alfaro was busy buying cocaine and heroin and getting high. Her first score was around 11 a.m. and by 2 p.m. she was again out of money and drugs. A friend, Antonio Reynoso, who had been released from prison the previous day, agreed to share his drugs with her if she would agree to share her needle. When his drugs ran out, Alfaro decided that she would rob the Wallaces' home to get money for more drugs.

Alfaro told Reynoso that she used to live with the Wallace family and that she had left a video cassette recorder at the home and would sell it to him in exchange for drugs. Alfaro, Reynoso, an unidentified man, and Alfaro's youngest baby went to the Wallace home. The men and the child waited by the car while Alfaro headed to the house.

Autumn answered the door and recognized Alfaro as a friend of her sisters. Alfaro asked if she could use the restroom and Autumn let her come inside. Alfaro then managed to take a knife from the kitchen drawer and then coaxed Autumn into the bathroom. There she stabbed Autumn over 50 times in the back, chest, and head.

With Autumn out the way, she went about robbing the house of various electronics, appliances, and clothing.

Alfaro later admitted that she knew Autumn would be home alone and she was also aware that Autumn could identify her to the police.

The Investigation

April Wallace returned home at around 5:15 p.m. and found the door to the house unlocked. When she entered the home she saw that the house was a mess and that there were several items missing. She called out to Autumn, but there was no answer, so she left and went across the street to a neighbor's house to wait for her mother to come home.

Linda Wallace arrived home around 5:40 p.m. and was told that the house had been burglarized and that Autumn was missing. She went inside the house to search for Autumn and found her dead in the back bathroom.

Neighbors told police that they saw a brownish Monte Carlo parked at the Wallace home and that two men, one holding a small child, were standing outside of the car. Police investigators were able to obtain a fingerprint from the Wallace home which matched to Alfaro.

Alfaro was brought in for questioning and denied any involvement in the murder.

More Evidence

Sometime after the murder, Alfaro asked a friend if she could leave a bag of clothing at her house. Alfaro contacted the friend later, asking that she leave the bag outside of her home because she was heading to Mexico early the next day, but she never showed up.
Investigators found out about the bag and on inspection found a pair of April's boots that had been reported as being stolen and a pair of Alfaro's tennis shoes. A warrant for Alfaro's arrest was issued and she was brought in for questioning again.


In a videotaped session that lasted more than four hours, Alfaro confessed that she alone murdered Autumn and then burglarizing the home.

Alfaro was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and burglary.


In March 1992 a jury found Rosie Alfaro guilty for the murder of Autumn Wallace. The trial lasted two weeks.

Sentencing - The First Penalty Phase

During the first penalty phase of the trial childhood friends of Alfaro testified that she grew up in a violent home and that her father was a drunk who abused her mother. They also testified that Alfaro was using drugs as early as the sixth grade and dropped out of school in the seventh grade, at which time she began injecting daily as many as 50 speed balls (a mixture of heroin and cocaine.)

Alfaro's mother, Sylvia Alfaro, testified that her husband was an alcoholic who often hit both herself and Rosie in front of the other children in the family, and threw the family out of the home during drunken rages. She spoke about her daughter's early drug use and her inability to quit. She said that at the age of 14, Rosie was pregnant with her first child. During that same time Rosie's father abandoned the family.

Who is Beto?

Rosie Alfaro also took the stand and testified about her unhappy childhood, her violent father, racial prejudice she suffered at school and about her inability to get off of drugs. She expressed her remorse over the murder of Autumn Wallace, stating that "we took your innocent life."

With the reference of "we" the court ruled that she had opened the door to cross-examination regarding what went on during the crime since Alfaro had always insisted that she acted alone.

During the cross-examination, Alfaro testified that she did murder Autumn, but did so under pressure from the second unidentified man that had come with her and Reynoso. She referred to the man as "Beto" but refused to offer any information as to his identity.

She also testified that she was high on drugs and "out of her head" shortly before going to the Wallace home. This time she said that she did not know Autumn would be home and had never planned to harm her.

She said that when" Beto," who was also high on drugs, saw that Autumn was in the house he became angry and put a knife to Alfaro's back and threatened to kill her and her child if she did not stab Autumn. She said she stabbed Autumn a few times, but claimed "Beto" must have inflicted the remainder of the stab wounds.

Alfaro said that once she came down from her high, she could not believe that Autumn was dead.

The prosecutor questioned Alfaro about information regarding the identity of "Beto" that she had told to a mental health expert that examined her at the request of her lawyers.

She testified that she initially told the doctor that the unidentified man was her father's friend and that his name was Miguel. She then told him that the man's name was "Beto" and identified him in a photograph and said he had a woman's name tattooed on his neck.

During questioning of Alfaro and Reynoso the defense suggested that the real identity of "Beto" was Robert Frias Gonzales, whose nickname is Beto. However, in rebuttal the prosecution questioned Robert Gonzales who denied having anything to do with the murder of Autumn Wallace and who also did not look at all like the man that Alfaro had identified in the picture as being "Beto."

Unable to identify who Beto was, the jury at the first penalty phase trial was unable to agree on a sentence and the trial court was declared a mistrial.

Second Penalty Phase Trial

The penalty retrial was held in April 1992 before a new jury. Most of the same witnesses who testified during the first penalty trial, testified again, although this time Rosie Alfaro remained silent.

In addition to the original testimony, the defense called an expert criminalist, Marc Taylor, who testified that after examining much of the evidence, that shoe prints found inside and outside the house did not match Alfaro's shoes.

A deputy sheriff at the Orange County jail testified for the defense about a person he saw who resembled the picture that Alfaro had identified as being "Beto" getting into a blue Camaro parked across the street from the main jail.

Dr. Consuelo Edwards who was the mental health expert that Alfaro had first told about "Beto" forcing her to murder Autumn also testified for the defense. He said that Alfaro's intellectual functioning was borderline, and that she had an IQ of 78 and learning disabilities that were made worse by her traumatic childhood. He described her as a follower.

In rebuttal, the prosecutor had several Orange County jail employees testify about Alfaro's poor behavior in jail and quoted comments that they had overheard her saying to another inmate.

They testified hearing her say, "I'm a frustrated person who takes things out on people, and have to learn to live with that," and "I'm not going to be able to do this again. I'm no actor. I'm going to be cold this time. I just want to get this over with."

Orange County investigator Robert Harper testified that Robert Frias Gonzales, who the defense claimed was "Beto" and the second man with Alfaro on the day of the murder, had a butterfly tattoo on his neck and not a woman's name, which is what Alfaro had described.

On July 14, 1992, the second penalty phase jury sentenced Rosie Alfaro to death.

In August 2007, the Supreme Court of California denied Rosie Alfaro's request for a stay of execution.

María del Rosio Alfaro is the first woman ever sentenced to death in Orange County.

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Your Citation
Montaldo, Charles. "The Crimes of Maria del Rosio Alfaro." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Montaldo, Charles. (2020, August 26). The Crimes of Maria del Rosio Alfaro. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "The Crimes of Maria del Rosio Alfaro." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 12, 2021).