Journalism may be safer than real estate.
Garland police say they have identified a 23 year old suspect in the death of Jacinto “Jay” Torres Hernandez, whose body was found June 13 in the backyard of a Garland home. And the murder appears to be related to the victim’s real estate business, not his writing career.
In addition to writing for Fort Worth newspaper La Estrella, a Spanish-language newspaper published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 57-year-old was an active real estate investor who invested, purchased and flipped properties in Dallas and surrounding areas.
Police believe the suspect, identified as 23-year-old Anibal Edilfredo Chirino Mejia, lost money in a sour real estate transaction with Torres and wasn’t too happy. He intended to sue Torres, police say. From the mug shot, it appears that Mejia has had other brushes with the law.
Jay Torres’ son, Gibran Torres, said the family had found a demand letter Mejia sent his father that may have led them to the suspect.
Here is what Mejia demanded: less than $5,000.
“I was really upset because it wasn’t worth killing him,” said the son. “It wasn’t even worth putting a gun on somebody.”
Police apparently examined Jay Torres’ phone and belongings for leads to his murder. They found communications between Torres and someone else that led them to Mejia.
Jay Torres had been dead for several days behind the Garland home, which he was apparently prospecting.
On June 13, a business partner found Torres, a 57-year-old real estate agent and a beloved local journalist, dead in the backyard of a home in the Dallas suburb. By then, his body had already been there for “multiple days,” according to a Garland PD press release. He had been shot in the torso, his body left “exposed to rain and moisture” for days, according to the local Spanish-language newspaper Al Día.
Since Torres covered local stories on controversial issues ranging from politics to health care and immigration, journalist groups that advocate for journalists’ safety have been calling for justice.
Even UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, asked authorities “to investigate this killing and its motives so that those responsible for it be brought to trial.” UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, promotes the safety of journalists globally. And…
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also noted in a statement that they were “alarmed” by the murder, especially given the infrequency with which journalists are killed for their work in the United States. CPJ has only documented seven such cases since 1992. If Torres was indeed killed for his work, he would be the eighth.
Gibran Torres said his father dealt with people suing him or threatening to sue him “two or three times a year” over his real estate career, or that tenants would leave a property vandalized or in need of serious repair.
Real Estate can be a dangerous occupation, it seems.