Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra says investigators have learned the nickname of an individual they believe participated in the murder of a 59-year-old man last Sunday.
Authorities believe that person fled to Mexico the same day Gerardo Gonzalez was killed, Guerra said, adding that the sheriff’s office is working with its federal partners to contact authorities in Mexico.
Guerra said further steps are being taken to identify the individual.
Investigators arrested 24-year-old Saul Galindo Rodriguez, a former employee of Gonzalez’s on Tuesday, and charged him with capital murder.
He is being held without bond.
During a Wednesday news conference, Guerra said investigators believe Rodriguez beat Gonzalez to death with a baseball bat during an argument over wages.
After his arrest, the sheriff said Rodriguez confessed.
“Rodriguez then provided a voluntary statement of accused where he admitted to striking the victim on the head with a baseball bat after an argument over wages which was owed to him by the victim,” Guerra said.
Gonzalez’s wife, who reported him missing after he didn’t arrive home on Saturday, went to the welding shop the couple owned on Sunday looking for her husband.
She didn’t find the man, but she did find a pool of blood with a bat next to the blood, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Using cellphone records, investigators located Gonzalez in his vehicle, which was stuck in the mud near Mile 10 North and Mile 1 East in rural Mercedes.
“Sheriff’s Investigators further observed that the deceased’s truck was ransacked along with his person,” the probable cause affidavit states.
At that Wednesday news conference, Guerra said witness statements revealed that money from Gonzalez’s wallet and some tools were missing.
The probable cause affidavit for Rodriguez’s arrests states that Gonzalez’s wife told investigators she had seen Rodriguez at the warehouse the night her husband went missing.
“She further stated that (Rodriguez) was wearing a green shirt,” the charging document states.
Sheriff’s investigators then tracked down Rodriguez’s wife, who told them that her husband had left their residence on Saturday night and did not return until Sunday morning.
When he came home, he was wearing a green shirt and was covered in mud, according to the probable cause affidavit.
“Ms. Rodriguez further stated that Saul Rodriguez burned his clothing and threw his shoes into a cornfield next to their residence,” the charging document states.
A search warrant of Rodriguez’s residence corroborated his wife’s statements, the probable cause affidavit states.
When Rodriguez appeared before Justice of the Peace Jason Peña for his arraignment Wednesday, the man claimed self defense.
“He hit me first and I defended myself,” Rodriguez said.
The investigation is ongoing.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case to call the investigators at (956) 383-8114. Tipsters wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (956) 668-TIPS or can submit a tip through the smartphone application P3 TIPS.