McALLEN - What a year it has been for local homicide detectives.
With three days left in 2008, there have been at least 51 murders in Hidalgo County so far this year - 14 more than the year before.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office has more than half of all the cases in 2008.
With 26 murders investigated, only two of those cases - of a body found in a cow pasture near Alton and another of a grandfather found dead in a mobile home west of Edinburg - remain unsolved, Sheriff Lupe Treviño said.
Suspects have been charged or arrest warrants have been issued in the rest of them.
"It's been a very challenging year for the homicide investigators," Treviño said.
In McAllen, there have been nine murders in 2008 - up from six last year. Only one of that department's cases remains unsolved.
People detest murders arguably "more than anything else," but they are the most-solved cases for police departments, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said in June, following the stabbing of a 15-day-old infant near a downtown WIC clinic.
The desire for investigators to solve these cases may come from a deep-rooted need to understand why someone would take another life, the chief said.
"When we don't have it, there's a void there," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes those voids make us uncomfortable."
Fifty-one lives taken in one year at the hands of another.
That's an average of nearly one per week.
It may seem like a big number for a place like Hidalgo County, but considering the more than 700,000 people who call Hidalgo County home - plus neighboring counties, cities on the Mexican side of the border and a widespread population of illegal immigrants moving through the area - the Rio Grande Valley's law enforcement battle rivals large metro areas like Dallas or Houston, the sheriff said.
The Monitor has compiled a list from our archives to take a look at most of the murders that have occurred in Hidalgo County in 2008.
Suspects with updated court case information have been included.
"You're talking about a big city environment with big city problems," Treviño said. "And that is what this area is becoming."
REVISITING A VIOLENT YEAR
Jan. 21 - A Santa Rosa man allegedly shot a man outside a La Villa convenience store.
Jose Fidencio Garza, 37, allegedly shot Alejandro G. Macias, 44, outside the Cardinal Express Store at the intersection of Mike Chapa Boulevard and Seventh Street.
Witnesses told police they heard a gunshot and saw Garza walking from the store with a gun in his hand.
Garza's murder case remains pending in Hidalgo County District Court.
Jan. 24 - The parents of a Mercedes woman found her stabbed to death inside her apartment.
Jose Garcia Jr., 30, was charged with the murder of 33-year-old Sandra Rincon, a cousin of Garcia. Garcia allegedly stole Rincon's SUV, which was found abandoned at the Don-Wes Motel and RV Park about eight miles from her apartment.
Police said Garcia stabbed Rincon 35 times and strangled her to death. His next court date for his murder case is set for February 2009.
Feb. 13 - A suspected coyote was charged with murder after he allegedly crashed a truck packed with illegal immigrants east of San Isidro.
Arturo Vega Cardenas of Houston crashed his truck into some brush near Puerto Rico, a small community 10 miles east of San Isidro, after he was apparently spooked by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The impact killed Mexican national Jose Adolfo Padilla, 52, one of the men standing in the truck's bed during the crash. Cardenas, 23, was given no bond in his case.
Cardenas' next court date in his murder case is set for Jan. 5.
Feb. 19 - A Mexican national confessed to stabbing another illegal immigrant to death near Donna.
Authorities charged Jorge Atilano Serna Hernandez, 19, for the murder of Isidro Villafuerte Huerta, 28, during a Feb. 17 fight outside a home near Mile 14 and FM 493.
The two men apparently lived in the area and an argument between them escalated into Serna fatally stabbing Huerta.
Feb. 26 - Jealousy over a Mission man's growing role in his family's business prompted his brother to order a hit on him, police said.
Jose Juan Varela, 38, of Mission, was formally charged with capital murder Wednesday, more than four months after authorities found his younger brother Ruben Varela shot to death inside a model home.
Police found Ruben Varela's body Feb. 26 at a newly built model home near the intersection of Taylor Road and East Fourth Street in Mission. He had been shot eight times in the back somewhere in the vicinity of the building's kitchen and dining area.
Varela's next court date is set for Feb. 4.
March 9 - A Mission resident allegedly shot a man outside a McAllen nightclub.
Juan Efrain Robles, 26, turned himself in to police March 12 for the fatal shooting of Jorge Cano during a scuffle outside La Rana nightclub at the 2200 block of Nolana.
Cano, 31, was shot with a handgun and died by the time emergency responders arrived at the scene.
On March 17, Mission resident Rafael Rodriguez Peña, 32, who was with Robles at the time of the deadly incident, was also charged with Cano's murder.
Robles' next court date is set for Jan. 8. Peña's next court date is in Feburary.
March 21 - A Mission man was fatally shot after he confronted a man who ran him off the road.
Mexican authorities arrested Daniel Castañeda, 28, in Reynosa on March 26 in connection with the fatal shooting of Pablo Magallan, 21. Castañeda ran Magallan off the road March 19 near Mission Medical Center. Magallan then followed Castañeda to his home, where he was shot once in the torso, police said.
March 26 - A La Joya woman estimated to weigh at least half a ton was charged with capital murder in connection with the death of her 2-year-old nephew.
Investigators allege that Mayra Lizbeth Rosales, 27, struck Eliseo Gonzalez Jr. at least two times, causing skull fractures and bruises that killed him. Rosales, who weighed at least 1,000 pounds at the time, remains bedridden and has appeared at her court appearances via video conference.
A documentary film crew has followed Rosales' case for a film about her.
Rosales' case could go to trial next year.
April 2 - An argument about a wandering dog led to one man stabbing another near a Mercedes home known as the "Castle House," according to the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.
Miguel Lopez, 23, was charged with murder for the death of Roy N. Hernandez, 51, of Mercedes. Locals call the residence the "Castle House" because of its medieval gates, fortress-style walls and an enormous padlock on the front.
A jury trial for Lopez, an undocumented Mexican national, is set to begin Jan. 22.
April 15 - A McAllen photo technician was found beaten to death in his apartment.
Gabriel Garcia, 27, was found beaten to death with a blunt object at Marianas Apartments, 2300 N. Broadway.
Hours after Garcia's death, officers arrested Jose Alberto Ramirez, 29, as he was walking to his Edinburg home near Monte Cristo Road.
Ramirez was charged with capital murder April 16 and given a $2 million bond. His next court date is set for Jan. 26.
April 24 - Two men confessed to killing a Mexican national in a high speed April 20 shootout because of an ongoing feud over a woman, authorities said.
Juan Heriberto Treviño Pineda, 35 and Jaime Luna Ibarra, 35, told investigators they killed Saul Antonio Lopez Garmendia as Treviño drove his gray Ford Taurus alongside Lopez's car, according to court documents.
Three bullets struck Lopez, 27, as the two cars sped side-by-side along 1 Mile West just south of 11 Mile North.
Treviño pleaded no contest to murder in November and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ibarra's next court date is set for Jan. 5.
May 18 - Just minutes before Nicolas Zavala's death, the man accused of his murder said he was "going to kill somebody."
About 7 a.m. Saturday, Pharr police responded to a call from Roberto Villalobos saying he had accidentally shot Zavala at his home, officials said.
Minutes before, Villalobos had called his estranged wife, Maria, and accused her of a relationship with Zavala. He told her that he was going to kill somebody, according to information she gave police.
Villalobos was arrested and charged with murder. The pre-trial hearing in his case is set for Jan. 12.
May 21 - A son's grudge against his father's boxing rival led to an early-morning shooting at a downtown bar.
Elias De Leon, 20, of McAllen, apparently harbored bad blood toward his father's adversary, Mexican pugilist Roque "Rocky" Montoya, and that enmity translated into violence, police said.
The shooting happened outside Vaches Lounge, 114 S. 20th St. Montoya died from his gunshot wounds on June 7.
No information on De Leon's case was immediately available.
May 23 - Two men were charged with first-degree murder, accused of killing a Donna man as he visited his friends.
Silverio Guadalupe Gamez is suspected of repeatedly stabbing Abraham Garcia-Lopez, an illegal immigrant from Cancun, Mexico, at a home at the corner of West 10th Street and South Indiana Avenue in Mercedes.
Alexander Joseph Zamora, a friend of Gamez, is also suspected of being involved in the murder.
Pre-trial hearings for Gamez and Zamora are set for Jan. 20.
May 29 - A teenage mother who first claimed her infant daughter was snatched in broad daylight was charged with stabbing the baby to death.
The supposed kidnapping-turned-homicide sent the McAllen Police Department on an exhaustive citywide search to locate a man who would never be found.
Police said Mexican national Angelica Maria Gutierrez Acosta, 19, killed 15-day-old Gabriella Corona a day after the baby was released from Rio Grande Regional Hospital. Gutierrez's next court date is set for Jan. 14.
June 8 - An 84-year-old woman was murdered for a set of tires and wheels, law enforcement officials said.
The man authorities believe organized the robbery attempt, 24-year-old Ricardo Garza Lopez, was charged with felony capital murder.
Sheriff's deputies arrested Lopez on Sept. 13 in connection with the murder of Elena Garza, who was fatally shot while riding in a Chrysler car with her son-in-law, Mario Diaz. A Jeep Cherokee forced Diaz off the road and a gunman fatally shot Garza, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Authorities believe the shooting was part of a robbery attempt that Lopez orchestrated in hopes of stealing the wheels and tires off the Chrysler.
Lopez's next court date is set for Jan. 15.
June 14 - A 2-year-old boy was killed by his mother after she kicked him in the intestine, authorities said.
Police say 30-year-old Mexican national Maria Almaguer kicked her son Isaias in the stomach June 14, fatally injuring the toddler. Her mother and a babysitter corroborated her statement to police that she had been alone with Isaias in the hours before his death, according to the probable cause affidavit in her case.
Almaguer was charged with capital murder. The pretrial hearing in her case is set for Jan. 22.
July 4 - A Mercedes man was killed after his half brother handed him a loaded gun that went off during the exchange.
At least one bullet pierced Erasmo Zuniga Treviño's chest as the siblings celebrated the holiday at a home on Fresno Street in Mercedes. He later died on his way to the hospital.
Eleazar Zuniga Camacho, 18, was arrested after a brief chase with Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies led to a home on the 27100 block of South White Ranch Road in La Feria. The home is just a few miles from where authorities suspect he handed his half brother a loaded gun that went off.
"If it was an accident, we wouldn't be doing anything," Sheriff Treviño said after the arrest. "This was done recklessly."
Camacho was charged with manslaughter for his half-brother's death. His court case is pending, with it next date set for June 2009.
July 5 - An argument led to a killing outside an Alton bar, deputies said.
Damasio Almaguer, 26, allegedly shot and killed Oscar Mercado, 38.
Almaguer allegedly killed Mercado about 2 a.m. July 5 during an argument that broke out after Mercado accosted his sisters for frequenting Los Galleros Bar near 8 Mile Line and Los Ebanos Road.
Despite taking bullets through his chest and right shoulder while standing in the parking lot, Mercado managed to climb into his vehicle and tried to drive away, Sheriff Treviño said. He crashed into a fence and later died.
Almaguer was arraigned on one count of murder on Aug. 7.
July 15 - Eduardo Cruz's relatives hadn't heard from him since late Sunday afternoon.
His older sister Rebecca found the school teacher dead and shirtless in a pool of blood on his bed at his Weslaco home at the corner of South Oregon Avenue and East 10th Street.
Cruz was likely stabbed several times with a sharp object within 48 hours before his death was discovered, police said.
Police suspect his alleged killer, Francisco Javier Gonzalez-Rivera, fled to Mexico days after Cruz was found dead at his Weslaco home. No arrests have been made.
July 15 - An 18-year-old woman was found dead after her family had reported her missing.
Said Vargas told investigators July 15 he accidentally strangled the teen and led investigators to a canal north of Edinburg where he dumped Yuliana Reyes' naked body.
Investigators said Vargas told them he accidentally strangled Reyes during an argument at her family's home July 8, a day before her family reported her missing. He stripped off her clothes, wrapped her in a blanket and eventually dumped her body in a debris-ridden canal near the intersection of Seminary and Monte Cristo roads, police said he told them. Vargas' next court date is Jan. 8.
July 18 - Several suspected members of the Texas Chicano Brotherhood fatally stabbed a man at the Sheboygan Club in Lopezville.
Gabriel Sepulveda Jr. allegedly stabbed and killed 48-year-old Julio Garcia in the parking lot of the dingy topless bar after the man accosted the gang for slashing his tires, investigators said.
The sheriff's deputies' investigation led them to the 18-year-old Sepulveda, who was arrested during the early morning hours of July 19. Further investigation led deputies to arrest a 16-year-old man and 19-year-old David Rivera and the juvenile, who are accused of grappling with Garcia and beating him.
Sepulveda's next court date is set for Jan. 5.
July 19 - A 33-year-old man is suspected of killing his wife in front of the couple's two children.
Cesar Trejo confessed to a neighbor that he shot Mariana Tijerina, 25, in the yard of the family's trailer home at the corner of North Border and Sioux roads near Alamo. He fled the scene before authorities arrived.
Trejo's mother, Maria, called police on her son.
Treviño said Trejo has a history of abusing his wife. Last week he was released from jail for a family violence charge that involved his wife and according to jail documents, he's been arrested several times for violence against a family member.
Trejo was charged with first-degree murder in court July 22. His next court date is set for Jan. 15.
July 19 - A teenager was found dead next to a Dumpster at a local convenience store.
The owner of Valeria's Drive Thru said she discovered a 16-year-old boy's body behind the store located near the intersection of 12 Mile Line and Farm-to-Market Road 1015, authorities said.
Investigators said they believe he was shot at the scene sometime overnight, hours before the clerk contacted authorities.
Silvestre Delgadillo, an illegal immigrant tasked with guarding the convenience store, shot and killed 17-year-old Roberto Garcia as the teen tried to break in to the store. The owner of the business, Olivia Lopez, who employed the immigrant, was not expected to face federal charges. Authorities ruled the death a justifiable homicide.
July 30 - An ongoing fight between two Mexican crime families led to a toddler's fatal shooting south of Edinburg, sheriff's investigators said.
Authorities charged Dimas Daniel Gonzalez Zamora, 21, with capital murder in the death of 3-year-old Yaritza Garabay but said the dispute that ended in her death has links to another local shooting in May and extends back several years. His next court date is set for Jan. 12.
Investigators continue to search for Favio Jesus Chipres Torres, 31, and two other suspected accomplices known only as Liz and Jorge. All are believed to be in Mexico.
July 31 - Two farm workers discovered a woman's body wrapped in a bed sheet alongside a rural road early Thursday morning.
Sheriff Treviño said he believes the woman is from "South of the border" who was about 30 years old.
The workers found her body about 7 a.m. along Mile 9 1/2 North Road, near the La Homa Road intersection.
Treviño said deputies weren't necessarily investigating her death as a murder, though it wasn't clear how she ended up on the side of the road. The only sign of injury was a small wound above the woman's right eye.
Aug. 12 - Seven people - including four juveniles ranging in age from 14 to 16 - faced capital murder charges after 76-year-old Miguel Cahue was beaten to death in his McAllen mobile home.
Cahue's family had not heard from him since Aug. 6. Two days later, the man's son-in-law discovered him dead in his bedroom. Many of his possessions, including a laptop and digital camera, were missing.
A friend of one of the teens accused of murdering Cahue came forward and led police to the seven people subsequently arrested in connection with the crime.
In addition to the four teens charged with capital murder Aug. 10, Elias A. Gomez, 18, of McAllen, and two Pharr residents - Hazael Gonzalez, 29, and Joel Salinas, 28 - are also behind bars, accused of Cahue's slaying.
The three suspects have court dates in January.
Aug. 25 - Police made an arrest in connection with a 14-year-old's killing at a Weslaco convenience store.
The 18-year-old man, Victor Hugo Olivares, who lives north of Weslaco, was arraigned on capital murder charges for the shooting death of Roberto Castro Jr.
Weslaco police said Castro was shot in the chest at the Murphy USA at 1310 N. Texas Blvd.
Castro and his father, Roberto Castro Sr., approached a gray 2003 Dodge truck at the gas pumps, suspecting it might be their recently stolen vehicle, police said. The driver took off and someone in the car fired through the window, hitting Castro Jr. in the chest.
Two other suspects remain on the loose in the case. Olivares' next court date is scheduled for Jan. 5.
Aug. 31 - The suspected killer in the fatal stabbing of a 23-year-old San Juan man was charged with murder.
A second man faced assault charges in connection with the altercation, which sent three other men to area hospitals.
Jesus Felix, 21, is accused of stabbing David Vasquez, 23, outside the Veranda Apartments at 941 N. Sugar Road during a late-night party. The knife struck an artery in Vasquez's thigh and he died from the wound hours later at McAllen Medical Center.
Investigators say Felix and Eduardo Saucedo, 20, both of McAllen, fought with Mark Anthony Guerra, 20, David Cardwell, 21, Alex Cardwell, 18, and Vasquez after a dispute over a tattoo police believe to be associated with a gang based in Alice.
Sept. 1 - Police say a suspected illegal immigrant working for state Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, brutally beat another man to death with a bat.
Froilan Casares, 24, was working at a ranch owned by Flores near the intersection of North Tropser and Yukon Roads near Mission when he killed a young Hispanic male whose name authorities have not released, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Caseres, who has since fled to Mexico, authorities said.
Sept. 10 - A Harlingen man faces murder charges after confessing to the fatal stabbing of a 67-year-old man found earlier this week near San Carlos.
Investigators believe Alejandro Quintana, 51, stabbed Arnoldo Bermea multiple times during a drug deal gone bad, Sheriff Treviño said.
Sheriff's deputies found Bermea's body abandoned in the middle of Curve Road, east of 83rd street and south of the city.
According to the probable cause affidavit in his case, Quintana was identified as a suspect after his number appeared several times in Bermea's cell phone. Quintana's case remains pending in the 275th District Court.
Sept. 16 - A body discovered in a cow pasture near Alton has been identified as a Honduran national who authorities believe was murdered.
Authorities found Elmer Ochoa's body on Sept. 16. He had been living in the United States illegally and died from at least one gunshot to the head, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said Thursday.
Sheriff's deputies identified Ochoa from a tattoo on his upper right arm of a red, orange and black yin-yang symbol with flames spewing toward his upper back, Treviño said. Deputies visited 35 tattoo parlors throughout the Rio Grande Valley until they came up with a match at Primitive Ink, a tattoo parlor at the southwest corner of Bryan and Mile 5 roads near Alton.
The case remains unsolved, Treviño said.
Sept. 18 - A month after a Mission woman went missing, her husband and stepson face murder charges for her death.
Pedro Lugo, 75, and his son, Javier, have been charged in Hidalgo County district court for the murder of Josefina Lugo. Javier Lugo, her stepson, also faces two counts of tampering with evidence in the case.
Willacy County officials found Josefina's arm floating in a canal there in August, according to a DNA test that matched with her, authorities said.
A grand jury indicted the duo for stabbing Josefina to death with a knife or another sharp object on or about Aug. 24. The grand jury also said that Javier Lugo, 45, knowingly tried to alter, hide or destroy his stepmother's blood - impairing the subsequent police investigation.
Both Lugos have court dates scheduled in January.
Sept. 25 - A man was arraigned in Palmview Municipal Court after his girlfriend's unborn fetus died.
Juan Antonio Avilez, 42, faces one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and one count of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. Palmview Municipal Judge Sergio Muñoz set a total bond of $1.2 million for the charges.
Both counts stem from a Sept. 10 incident in which Avilez's then-pregnant girlfriend, Leticia Rizo, accuses him of pushing and kicking her in the parking lot of Toys Auto Sales, 412 E. Loop 374.
Sept. 25 - A man was found dead inside his travel trailer near Alton.
Deputies responded about the morning of Sept. 25 to a call about a dead body found inside a travel trailer behind the Morales Construction warehouse along Mile 7 North Road, just west of Glasscock Road, said Sheriff Treviño.
The man was identified as 77-year-old Eugenio Morales, according to the sheriff.
Treviño said he believed Morales was related to the family of the same name that owns the construction company.
The case remains unsolved.
"I think we have a good idea what happened," Treviño said Tuesday (Dec. 23). "We just don't know who did it."
Sept. 27 - Police questioned a person of interest Saturday night in the homicide of a 28-year-old teacher with the Sharyland school district.
No charges had been filed against the man whom investigators detained in connection with the death of B.L. Gray Junior High School teacher Summer Meland, said McAllen police Chief Victor Rodriguez.
A housekeeper discovered Meland's body at 8:30 a.m. Saturday inside the teacher's home at 304 Yucca Ave., said McAllen police detective Armando Contreras.
Police believe Meland's ex-boyfriend Daniel Gilberto Perez killed her, though authorities have been tightlipped about a possible motive. According to court documents, relatives of Meland have said they believed Perez could be hiding out in a second home in Reynosa to avoid arrest.
Oct. 3 - A pit bull apparently went after a neighbor's puppy about six months ago, triggering a feud between two families on the outskirts of Monte Alto that left one man dead and his brother in the hospital, the victims' brother said.
Rudy Reyes, 44, was charged with murder and attempted murder after he confessed to shooting Hector Garza to death and wounding his brother Gilbert, said Sheriff Treviño.
The deadly gunfire was the culmination of months of conflict between the Garza family and the Reyes, said Juan Garza, the victims' brother.
Reyes was charged with one count of murder and one count of criminal attempted murder. His bond was set at $375,000 for the two charges. Reyes next date in court is set for Jan. 8.
Oct. 5 - A Mexican national stabbed another immigrant to death and dumped his body in a canal, according to the findings of an investigation by the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.
Gilberto Turribates-Rubio, 23, is wanted for the slaying of Hector Alfonso Moreno Aguilar, Sheriff Treviño said Nov. 13.
A family discovered Aguilar's body Oct. 5 as they were fishing in a canal north of the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 88 and Mile 19 Road.
Aguilar was reported missing nearly a month earlier, on Sept. 10.
After his body was found, autopsy results confirmed he died from several stab wounds to the chest. As investigators examined Aguilar's corpse, which was found wrapped in a tarp, they found a baseball cap that they believe belongs to Turribates-Rubio, the sheriff said. The deputies' investigation also indicates Turribates-Rubio has used Aguilar's mobile phone and vehicle in the wake of the man's killing.
Turribates-Rubio's current location remains unknown, authorities said.
Oct. 14 - A body found near Pharr-San Juan-Alamo North High School was identified as that of Cesar Sanchez, a PSJA school district teacher, Pharr police officials said Wednesday.
The body was found in a canal just north of the school at 500 E. Nolana Loop, according Pharr police Lt. Guadalupe Salinas.
Cesar Sanchez, 33, of Pharr, had been missing for several days.
The Alamo Middle School teacher was reported missing by his mother, who had driven him to his home the day before.
The case is being investigated as a homicide.
Oct. 17 - A Mission man's common-law wife and her friend were arraigned on murder charges in connection with his death.
Enedelia Canales, 19, and Julissa Gonzalez, 23, were each formally charged with one count of murder.
Both women are illegal immigrants accused of killing 42-year-old Juan Antonio Morales, whose body was found Oct. 12 outside his vehicle near an abandoned store at the intersection of Mile 3 North and Schuerbach roads in Mission.
Both women have court hearings set for Jan. 8.
Nov. 7 - The body of an 18-year-old man was found behind a furniture store along U.S. Expressway 83 in Pharr.
Officers responded to a call about shots fired near the Lacks Clearance Center, 702 W. Expressway 83 in Pharr. After they arrived, they discovered the bullet-torn body of Edinburg resident Fernando "Ferny" Luna Jr., 18, according to a Pharr police statement.
Justice of the Peace Ismael "Melo" Ochoa pronounced Luna dead at the scene and ordered an autopsy.
Police continue to look for a dark-colored, four-door, 2005 or 2006 Cadillac CTS and a light-colored passenger vehicle, possibly a Dodge Neon, according to the statement.
The case remains unsolved.
Nov. 21 - Police would later arrest the widow of a slain welding shop owner and her purported lover in connection with the fatal shooting of her husband.
Investigators believe Mirna Matiana Garcia, 42, of Edinburg, coaxed boyfriend Jose Manuel Gomez into killing her spouse so the two could carry on their relationship out in the open.
Garcia confessed to her role in the plot to police and said she had tried to hire someone to kill her husband on multiple prior occasions, according to court filings.
But she maintained her innocence later that afternoon in front of nearly 30 family members.
Edinburg police found 47-year-old Antonio Manuel Garcia's body Nov. 21 in his office at Cactus Iron Works, near the intersection of U.S. 281 and Monte Cristo Road. He had been shot multiple times in the head with a firearm he kept behind his desk.
Dec. 3 - A prominent San Juan businessman was shot to death at his propane shop, police said.
Juan Garza, 63, was killed at his propane supply business near the intersection of Cesar Chavez Road and Farm-to-Market Road 495.
"He was the life of the party, a real jokester," said his son Danny Garza, an investigator with the Pharr Police Department. "He liked nothing more than to drink coffee with his compadres in the morning. He lived for life."
Danny Garza was by his father's side briefly at McAllen Medical Center before joining dozens of fellow law enforcement officers in an exhaustive search for the shooter.
Investigator Rolando Garcia of the San Juan Police Department, which led the search, said the man approached Juan Garza at his business, Amigo Propane, and asked him to fill his gas tank. The would-be customer then asked him for money and shot him.
The case remains unsolved.
Dec. 6 - A man Hidalgo County Sheriff's deputies believe shot and killed this three sons and mother-in-law, as well as wounded his estranged wife, turned himself in to authorities.
Roberto Aguirre Rojas, 42, arrived at the home of his estranged wife's parents at Minnesota Road and Mile 7 1/2 North just east of Citrus City Saturday night and shot his wife, their three children and his mother-in-law, authorities said.
Sworn statements Rojas gave deputies show that he admitted to killing his four relatives and shooting his wife.
He told investigators that on the night of Dec. 6, Rojas and his 25-year-old wife, Amelia, were fighting when he beat his wife with a rifle and shot her several times. His father-in-law Ruben Flores intervened and subdued Rojas before he took his daughter to the hospital.
When Flores returned to his home with sheriff's deputies, he found his wife and three grandsons brutally slain inside.
Amelia Rojas went into a coma at McAllen Medical Center, but came out of it and was released several days later.
Rojas was charged with capital murder on Dec. 8. No court date has been set in his case.
Dec. 22 - A McAllen teen who was arrested in connection to the slaying of two people was charged with capital murder.
Rogelio Martinez Jr., 17, was arraigned on two counts of capital murder for allegedly stabbing two victims to death - Guillermo David Guerra, 70, and Dahlila Flores, 35.
Authorities said the victims were stabbed numerously in the head, neck and upper body areas.
McAllen Municipal Judge Kathleen Henley set Martinez's bond at $2 million.
Dec. 23 - A Mission man was fatally shot outside a neighbor's house Tuesday while he was drinking beer with a friend.
Walton "Pinky" Sanchez, 48, was sitting under a carport at the corner of Joanna Avenue and 22nd Street when a copper car pulled up and the driver called him over.
Sanchez went to the car, had a brief conversation with someone inside and then was fatally shot in the chest. Police suspect Sanchez knew his assailant, but they continued to search for the car this week.
The case remains unsolved.
Monitor staff writer Jared Janes contributed to this report.
Jared Taylor covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439.