Monday, 18 November 2019

True Crime Story of a Croatian Immigrant in California: Jakov Dulcich

Recently, we wrote about a member of the Croatian diaspora who was a villain in a true-crime story. Today, it's time to hear about a very successful Croatian immigrant to California, Jakov Dulcich, who fell victim to violent crime in a somewhat bizarre story.

We all know about numerous Croats who have moved to California and started growing grapevines there. Maybe it's more precise to say that they continued growing grapes and making wine there, as most of them (or their families) were making wine here in Croatia long before moving to the New World.

However, there are other options of what can be made with grapes, Pretty Lady is one of the biggest growers, packers, and shippers of premium California Table Grapes and several raisin products. The company which owns the brand Pretty Lady, called Jakov P. Dulcich and Sons is located in McFarland in California's Central Valley, and was founded and owned by Jakov Dulcich. Mr. Dulcich was born in Argentina, but his parents returned to Brusje on the island of Hvar when he was just a boy.

He grew up on Hvar, and after getting married to his wife Antoinette, he left Hvar, first for Chile and then for California. That's where he founded the company, which grew each year, his sons joined him in the business and now they have thousands of acres of premium table grapes.

All of that would seem like an amazing success story of a Croatian emigrant, were it not for how Jakov's life ended, at the age of 85.

The story is told on Twitter by @kchironis (you can find the thread here).

On April the 11th, 2018, he was driving his SUV and was chased by a Kia, the whole thing was seen by an eyewitness. The witness later told the police that both his and Dulcich's cars swerved off the road and crashed, the driver of the Kia then got out and shot Dulcich point-blank. He tried to kill the witness too, but he managed to escape (it's not entirely clear how, as there were supposedly two assailants, and he just managed to escape them and go to the cops, apparently).

Soon after the incident, police located a burnt car belonging to a guy called Mariano Perez, and the witness picked him out of a lineup, saying that he looked "closest" to Dulcich's killer. Soon after, he retracts that, claiming that he wasn't sure it was Perez, and since there was no other evidence linking Perez to Dulcich's murder, he was found not guilty by the jury. But not even a full month after being released from jail, the suspected killer, Mariano Perez, turns up dead too. He was found with multiple gunshot wounds. His killer was never found. 

Then, a few months after that, another weird twist to the story emerged: another employee of Dulcich's company, Rodolfo Elizalde, called the police as his house was targeted by a drive-by shooting, and more than 30 rounds had been fired from what appears to be an AK47-type weapon. Elizalde had worked for the Dulcich's for over 25 years and told the police he was shot at twice before the final incident on his drive back home.

This seems to have been the final incident in the story thus far - if it even is the same story. Jakov Dulcich's killer has never been found. Perez's killer has not been found. It's not known who shot at Elizalde. There were rumours of it starting as a hired assassination of Dulcich, but why then kill the (potential) assassin after he's been found innocent? Does the series of attacks on his long-time employee have anything to do with Dulcich?

Hopefully, there will be a resolution to this mystery (dubbed by @kchironis as "True Grape Crimes"), and if that happens, you'll be able to read all about it on Total Croatia News!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Horror Story in Međimurje: Body Found, Woman Gone Missing in 2000

Croatia is, rightfully so, considered to be a very safe country, with low numbers for violent and similar crimes. That's why, when something like what happened yesterday happens in Croatia, when there's a body found, it catches everyone's attention, as it is not a common occurrence (and in this case, the crime and the aftermath are truly bizarre).

The story starts in 2000 when Jasmina Dominić was last seen in Zagreb. She was 23 at the time, spending her time in Zagreb, studying and working. Last time she spoke to her parents, she told them she was going to work on a cruise ship and/or to Paris, and they haven't had any word of her since then. First truly odd fact in this case is that her disappearance was reported to the police in 2005, so 5 full years since her parents and her family have last heard of her! She was placed on the list of the people missing in Croatia, Rumours in the village suggested that she has contacted the family, that her body was dumped in the ponds near the village of Palovec in Međimurje, and even that her body was hidden in the house! But not much has happened in the case of her disappearance since, except that Jasmina's father passed away a couple of years ago, (probably) not knowing where his daughter was.

Until yesterday. Yesterday a dead body was found in the house in Palovec occupied by Jasmina Dominić's family, where her sister lived (with her family), their father was before his death and their mother lived part-time (she works in Germany, so spends most of her time there). The details of the grisly discovery are not fully known, of course, but the most frequently told story is that the family has not been paying their electricity bills, that they were disconnected from the electricity because of their debt, and that someone noticed the strange odour coming from one of the freezers in the house. The rumour mill says that it was Jasmina's sister's son in law, who supposedly had no idea that there was another freezer in the house before he smelled the odour. The police were, of course, called, and what's known at this point is that Jasmina's sister, 45-year-old S. D. (Jasmina would've been 42 now) has been arrested yesterday evening.

Now that there's the body found, the police investigation will, almost certainly, uncover what exactly happened to poor Jasmina and who managed to keep the secret of her death for so many years.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

A Fugitive from the UK Hid in Croatia for Years?!

It appears that Justin Clarke (one of his many aliases) lived in Croatia, fought in the Homeland war, had a wife and a child – all the while being wanted by the UK for at least one murder!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Another Robbery Stopped by Police Forces in Zagreb

Although Zagreb is, compared to other cities of its size around the world, still relatively low in the number of violent crimes, it seems like sometimes even we get to witness the scenes that could find their place in any B-production Hollywood action movie.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Another Robbery Stopped by Police Forces in Zagreb

Although Zagreb is, compared to other cities of its size around the world, still relatively low in the number of violent crimes, it seems like sometimes even we get to witness the scenes that could find their place in any B-production Hollywood action movie.