Three California men were arrested after allegedly tying up a man, stabbing him to death and recording the attack on a cellphone, authorities said on Wednesday after an ex-girlfriend alerted police of the video.
The suspects – Dionicio Gutierrez Salazar, 36, Francisco Alvarez, 24, and Alexis Eduarto Garcia-Jiminez, 19 – and the victim shared a home in Atwater, where they were drinking on Saturday night. An argument broke out between the victim and one of the men, which then escalated into a fight, Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Delray Shelton said.
Detectives said they believe the three men are responsible for killing the man, who has yet to be identified, then wrapping his body in a rug and dumping it in an almond orchard near Snelling, where they set it on fire, Shelton said. Authorities told the Merced Sun-Star the victim is believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s.
All of the suspects have been booked into the Merced County Jail, he said.
One of the suspects showed the video of the attack to his ex-girlfriend on Tuesday, and the woman alerted police, Shelton said.
“It’s just getting more bizarre,” Sheriff Vern Warnke told reporters on Wednesday. “I’ve been with this department more than 36-plus years, and I guess I’m at the point where I’m never amazed anymore.”
Deputies identified the woman's former boyfriend and conducted surveillance on the suspects. One of them confessed to the crime to detectives and led them to the body, Shelton said.
Investigators found blood splatter and other evidence of the killing at the home, and they are searching the men's phones to find the video, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.