Crime

Man found dead inside trunk of torched car accused of stealing from murder suspects

Man found dead inside trunk of...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - ABC-7 has obtained new, chilling details of what led up to a Las Cruces man's murder September 22, 2016.

New Mexico State Police said Johnny Ramirez was found dead in the trunk of a burning car. Erica Mejia was found suffering from a stab wound on her neck.

Since then, 23-year-old Greg P. Saavedra Junior; 22-year-old Alejandro Ruiz; 19-year-old Damika Childs; and 24-year-old Adrian Banda have all been arrested on several charges, including an open count of murder.

An affidavit states the two victims, Mejia and Ramirez, drove to the home where Banda lived with Childs. Mejia told detectives a man exited the home and asked Ramirez to come inside. He hesitated, but entered, she said.

Mejia said she heard screams from inside the home, and Childs exited with duct tape, demanding Mejia move to the back seat of the vehicle she was in. Mejia said she was called a "rat" and noticed a blue and gray tarp being placed inside the trunk of the car.

When police arrested the suspects, Saavedra allegedly told investigators Banda and Childs accused Ramirez of stealing from them in the past.

Saavedra allegedly told investigators Banda beat up Ramirez inside the home and Childs beat the victim with a metal baton, court documents state.

Saavedra said Banda and Ruiz restrained Ramirez and pulled down his pants, where they found a BB gun. They were the ones who allegedly ordered Ramirez to get in the trunk, documents state.

Mejia allegedly told detectives she heard something going on in the trunk. Childs then duct-taped Mejia's eyes and mouth, the document states. Saavedra told agents he was crying and gagging while the group drove to the desert in the victim's car.

When the group arrived in a deserted area, they allegedly duct-taped Mejia to the steering wheel and Childs allegedly stabbed Mejia in the neck. Mejia was told to press the vehicle's gas pedal and warned not to get out of the car because she would be shot. Investigators said the car crashed into a ravine and caught fire, the court documents state.

After the car crashed into the ravine, Mejia was able to run away and came across a car. The people inside the car helped Mejia and soon noticed another vehicle approaching. At the point, the witnesses told police, Mejia started screaming, "they're trying to kill me." The witnesses called 911 for help.

Police also spoke with two men in that same desert area for recreational shooting. The men said they noticed a car go up in flames and three people running away from the vehicle. The witnesses provided descriptions of the suspects to investigators.


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