Oscar Hernandez

Eighteen-year-old Hampton University student Armand Browning was on spring break and with two friends, cruising out from Oak Park in the passenger seat of a Suzuki 4X4, when the three apparently crossed an unseen gang boundary on Chicago's West Side.

Oscar Hernandez, an 19-year-old street gang member, allegedly sprayed at least six bullets at the car, hitting Browning once in the head and killing him. Hernandez quickly vanished and remains a fugitive today. The federal warrant for him says his mother talked to police and told them Hernandez had probably fled to Mexico, or maybe to California.

And today, more than 17 years after the April 1994 murder, Browning's family members say they have not heard from Chicago police for years. Hernandez is not on the Cook County state's attorney's list of active Mexican extradition requests.

But Tribune reporters found Hernandez in El Estudiante, a riverside hamlet less than an hour's drive south of the city of Cuernavaca. Hernandez lived in a family-owned brick structure secluded behind a 10-foot-high wall and surrounded by corn stalks and banana trees. After fleeing Chicago and arriving here, reporters learned, Hernandez hooked up with a 14-year-old girl, and they have two children that they registered with local civil authorities in June of this year. No authorities have ever come looking for him, according to neighbors, the common-law wife and other Hernandez relatives.

David Jackson and Gary Marx, Tribune reporters

dyjackson@tribune.com, gmarx@tribune.com