Crime

Documents: Murder suspects stole drugs, slashed victim's throat

EL PASO, Texas - Court documents allege five suspects, including a Fort Bliss soldier, slashed the throat of 23-year-old Tyler Kaden Croke and stole the victim's drugs.

Officers found Kaden, an army combat veteran, was dead about 2 a.m. May 7 inside a unit at the Cantera Apartments at 1501 Lomaland.

Investigators arrested Tristan Chilton, 21; Stephanie Fernandez, 28; Brandon Olsen, 27; Zachary Johnston, 20; and 19-year-old Adam Acosta.

Police said all five worked together to kill Croke, who died of stab wounds to his neck.

A Fort Bliss spokesman confirmed with ABC-7 that Olsen is currently a Fort Bliss soldier, adding that Johnston and Acosta were "separated" from the Army a month ago. Details of their discharged were not provided.

Chilton, Olsen, Johnston, and Acosta are charged with capital murder, according to a police news release. Fernandez is charged with capital murder, possession of methamphetamine and possession of cocaine.

The bond for Chilton, Acosta and Fernandez was set at $1 million. Olsen's bond was set at $1.5 million and Johnston's bond was set at $1.25 million.

Police say Johnston and Acosta were arrested in Las Cruces and extradited to El Paso.

An obituary says Croke was from El Paso and Salem, Virginia, and that he was a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan.

Complaint affidavits obtained by ABC-7 state someone at the "Cantera Apartments" called police to report loud noises and a man pleading for his life in the apartment directly behind hers.

Officers walked over to apartment #171. When no one answered, the officers entered the apartment and found the victim, lying face down with his throat slashed.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage and observed four suspects entering a black Nissan Xterra with two stickers in the rear windshield: a Texas flag and an Eskimo Hut decal.

An investigation led investigators to the 13071 Socorro Road in San Elizario. Investigators were not able to locate the vehicle's owner, but later noticed the suspect vehicle traveling east on Socorro Road.

Surveillance was set up and investigators followed the vehicle into Far East El Paso, where the driver of the vehicle was pulled over after allegedly committing several traffic violations on the 100 block of S. Americas.

Police said Chilton was driving the vehicle. The suspect was taken into custody for several outstanding traffic warrants, police said.

Chilton was later asked if he could speak with detective regarding the homicide investigation and agreed to cooperate, police added.

Under interrogation, Chilton allegedly said the suspects entered the victim's apartment at gunpoint. Once inside, the group allegedly stole drugs from the victim, Chilton said.

Chilton also allegedly said he held the victim's legs after Johnston and Olsen wrestled the victim to the ground. Chilton told detectives he and Johnston stabbed and slashed the victim's throat with a knife.

Chilton allegedly told detectives Olsen "finished the job" as the victim tried to crawl away. The suspects allegedly left the apartment in the Nissan Xterra allegedly driven by Fernandez.


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