Authorities have arrested a 26-year-old man in connection with the alleged murder of Galen Joseph May, a popular assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and a well-known figure at Northern California racetracks.
According to a Sacramento County Sherriff's Department press release, deputies in Kern County arrested Juan Carlos Orozco at a relative's home in Delano, Calif., late on the night of Sept. 2. Delano is approximately 250 miles south of the Sacramento-area apartment where the 69-year-old May's body was discovered by deputies Aug. 28. May’s exact time and cause of death await a final determination from the county coroner's office.
Orozco was identified after surveillance video of him with the victim’s vehicle was recovered from a Hayward, Calif., gas station, according to the sheriff's department. Detectives returned to May’s apartment complex with the suspect’s photo and were able to identify Orozco as someone who lived, off and on, in the apartment directly below May’s residence.
Detectives do not believe the victim had any type of relationship with Orozco and are continuing their investigation to establish a motive for the homicide.
According to the statement, Sacramento Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau detectives uncovered information which led them to believe Orozco was staying with relatives in Delano. They contacted the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and asked it to check the family member’s residence for the suspect’s presence.
Kern County Sheriff’s deputies booked Orozco into the Kern County Jail on the charges of murder, burglary, and resisting arrest. Sacramento investigators are working with the Kern County officials to have Orozco transferred to the Sacramento County Main Jail.
May was discovered in his apartment by a concerned neighbor who notified authorities. Soon after May’s death was confirmed, investigators determined that his 1999 Black Toyota Solara was missing. The vehicle has not been recovered.
Divorced with two grown children, May worked in the receiving barns at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows for 31 years before retiring in 2003. Upon retirement, May became an assistant to Hollendorfer, serving as the prominent trainer’s head traveling man.
He accompanied Hollendorfer’s horses to major races such as the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Among the Derby starters he took to Churchill Downs were Eye of the Tiger, Bwana Bull, and Chocolate Candy. This spring he took care of Blind Luck when she was at Churchill Downs to prepare for her victory in the Oaks.
May's 18-year-old grandson, Joseph Dawson, told the Sacramento Bee that horses were his grandfather's passion.
"He knew what he was doing," Dawson said. "The horses were real peaceful with him and he was peaceful with them."
Dawson told the paper that May's death has shocked his family. "It's horrible," he said.