The Edmond Sun

January 6, 2014

Edmond investigation leads to murder charges

Preliminary hearing set for this month

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Two suspects face murder charges in the death of a man whose body was discovered in Edmond along Interstate 35, court records show.

Police have been quiet about the investigation and court proceedings in the case until Monday, when Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, released the names of three suspects in the death of Leopoldo Mejia, aka Jose Mejia-Serranto and Jose Ramirez.

Monroe said the local investigation, in which detectives had no official identification to go on, only phone numbers written on the inside of a belt, has been completed. She said the department was glad to find answers and now will follow the case in the court system.

On Feb. 1, 2013, Oklahoma County prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against Miguel Angel Garcia, 30, address unknown, and Victor Manuel Santamaria Garcia, 26, listed as homeless, according to court records.

Edgardo Garcia, 23, address unknown, faces an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder charge, according to court records.

No defense attorney contact information was listed in court records. All three defendants have appeared in court and entered a plea of not guilty. All three men are being held in the Oklahoma County jail without bond. They are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Jan. 31.



CASE BACKGROUND

In an affidavit of probable cause filed in Oklahoma County District Court, Edmond Police Detective Misty Spence stated that at 5:15 a.m. Dec. 1, 2012, she was notified by dispatch about the discovery of a body along Interstate 35 between Danforth and Covell.

Spence stated that when she arrived, she found the victim lying on the shoulder of the highway, and a black plastic bag was covering the bottom half of his body.

The victim had multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck area, the affidavit stated. Due to the lack of blood at the scene, it appeared he was killed in another location and dropped off there, the affidavit stated. The victim had no ID, but did have $700 in cash lying underneath his body.

The victim’s fingerprints were sent to federal immigration personnel who identified him as Leopoldo Mejia, aka Jose Mejia-Serranto and Jose Ramirez, the affidavit stated. They reported the victim had been deported out of New Orleans to Honduras.

Several phone numbers were written on the back of the victim’s belt; one was a 405 area code, the other 504, the affidavit stated.

Spence called the 504 number and aided by a translator spoke with Manuel Murillo, a Maryland resident, the affidavit stated. He was a friend of a man in Oklahoma named Leopoldo Mejia, who had lived in the state four to five months, the affidavit stated.

Manuel said he had been getting phone calls from Leopoldo’s family in Honduras who were concerned because they had not heard from him for several days, the affidavit stated. Manuel said he would be able to help with contacting Leopoldo’s family in Honduras, the affidavit stated.

Several days later, with the help of an FBI linguist, Spence was able to call Manuel back, and he provided a phone number for Leopoldo’s ex-father-in-law, the affidavit stated.

In Honduras, an FBI attaché helped investigators talk to relatives who helped them reach Miguel Santamaria who lived in the country, the affidavit stated. He has two sons who were living with Leopoldo in Oklahoma: Victor Manuel Santamaria Garcia and Miguel Santamaria Garcia, the affidavit stated. He was told Edgardo Garcia also lived with them.

Miguel Santamaria told the ex-father-in-law he had talked to his sons, and that he told him the three of them murdered Leopoldo after getting into an argument, the affidavit stated.

After hearing this, the ex-father-in-law said, he called Edgardo Garcia to confront him, and Edgardo confessed to killing Leopoldo, the affidavit stated.

Edgardo said they were all drinking at the apartment  when an argument occurred, which led to the stabbing by himself, Miguel Santamaria Garcia and Victor Manuel Santamaria Garcia, the affidavit stated. Edgardo said they then disposed of Leopoldo’s body, the affidavit stated.

Through unspecified investigative techniques, it was found that Leopoldo’s phone was still being used or at least was still active; it was checking to a location in Louisiana, the affidavit stated.

Spence contacted the Louisiana State Police, where a member of a U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force was able to interview the suspects living in an apartment in Gretna, La., the affidavit stated. Leopoldo’s phone was found in the apartment, the affidavit stated.

All five residents were found to be living in the country illegally and detained by federal immigration personnel, Spence stated.

Authorities also found a money gram for $300 sent from a vacant Oklahoma City rent house, one of two where several Hispanic renters had left suddenly the first week of December, the affidavit stated. The victim’s name was written on a microwave found in one of the rent homes, the affidavit stated.



WITNESS ID’S SUSPECT

In January 2012, Spence and Edmond Police Sgt. Damon Minter went to the sheriff’s department in Louisiana, which had jurisdiction over the apartment there, the affidavit stated.

During a series of interviews, the detectives learned that on Nov. 30, 2012, the males were drinking alcohol outside between the Oklahoma City rent houses, the affidavit said.

The next morning, a witness said he walked back to one of the rent houses and found that Leopoldo was not there, but his cell phone was plugged into a charger, the affidavit stated.

The males told the witness Leopoldo had left the night before, but never returned, the affidavit stated. The witness said on the morning of Dec. 1, 2012, he saw what appeared to be blood stains on the side of Edgardo’s foot — he was just wearing sandals, the affidavit stated.

When the witness rode in van with the men to get coffee, he saw what he believed was blood on cushions inside the van, the affidavit stated. It appeared as if the interior had been rearranged, the affidavit stated.

After the men dropped him off at the rent houses, the three of them never returned, leaving all their belongings, the affidavit stated.

On Feb. 1, 2013, federal immigration agents in Florida contacted a man who gave the name Angel Garcia, Spence stated. The witness positively identified him as Miguel Santamaria Garcia, Spence stated.



Marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108