EDMOND, Okla. – It’s been more than a year since Jose Mejia-Serrano was found dead along I-35, near Covell.
Police knew from the beginning they were dealing with a homicide; however, they had very few clues as to who the man was, where he came from or what happened leading up to his murder.
In the days after Serrano’s body was found, investigators released a sketch and even his teeth, which were plated with gold stars, to see if someone could identify him.
Edmond police say it was the victim who actually answered some of the many questions.
Serrano’s belt had phone numbers written on it and those numbers helped police identify him.
After finding out who the victim was, police were able to track down a cell phone number for him and traced it to a man in Louisiana.
That man was a relative of the suspects and the victim and had actually lived in Oklahoma City at the time of the crime.
He told police that the morning Serrano disappeared, he had seen blood on a family member’s shoe and in a van the men used to get to work.
Later that day, he told authorities all the suspects had disappeared.
He helped police identify Miguel Angel Garcia, Edgardo Garcia and Victor Manuel Santamaria Garcia.
Two of the suspects, Miguel and Edgardo, were found in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
and Edgardo was ready to talk.
Sgt. Damon Minter, a detective with the Edmond Police Department, said, “He actually told us he was there when it happened. He saw it happen.”
Edgardo told police Jose Mejia-Serrano and Victor Santamaria-Garcia were always fighting.
Edgardo also said the night of the murder, Jose was drunk and came in with a knife.
Victor grabbed him from behind, pulled him outside and that’s where he stabbed him.
Minter said, “They drove on I-35 until it got dark. There was no more light and that is where they dumped the body.”
At that point police began searching for Victor.
Minter added, “Several weeks later ICE calls and says we got your guy.”
Victor had been found in St. Louis.
Charges had already been filed against him in Oklahoma.
Police say the lead detective was determined to solve this case even though there was very little physical evidence to go on.
Minter said, “Detective Spence’s work on this was just brilliant.”
Police say all of the men were illegally in this country.
They say it’s not uncommon for illegal immigrants to have emergency contact numbers on their belts because it is one of the only material things that goes with them from one place to another.
Police say all of the suspects are cousins.
The victim was married to another cousin within that family.
Edgardo is facing a charge for accessory to murder. Miguel and Victor are facing a charge for first degree murder.
All three are expected in court at the end of January.