GARLAND, Texas - Police in Garland are looking for a 23-year-old man who allegedly killed a local freelance journalist and real estate agent after a housing dispute.
Jay Torres, 57, was shot to death on June 10. His body was found a few days later in the backyard of a home he was renovating.
Garland police worked with local, state and federal agencies to look into all aspects of his life. They ruled out robbery since Torres had about $1,000 on him when his body was found.
Phone records led them to Anibal Edilfredo Chirino Mejia, who Torres had spoken to before his death. Court records also showed that Mejia had tried to file a lawsuit against Torres because of problems with buying a house.
Mejia is now considered a suspect in Torres’ murder. Garland police and the U.S. Marshalls are working to find and arrest him and is believed to be in Central America.
Gibran, son of Torres, said he is filled with anger since learning the alleged motive was money -- possibly a couple thousand dollars.
Gibran said a handwritten letter his sister found among his dad's business documents put police on Mejia's trail. The letter, from Mejia to Torres, merely asked for money back -- likely a deposit to be returned.
Gibran, and Garland Police, want someone to turn Mejia in. He said arresting Mejia would bring him, and those who loved Torres, peace.
"My dad meant a lot to a lot of people," said Gibran. "More than I ever knew when we was alive."
Torres was an award-winning print reporter and photographer who covered stories affecting the Hispanic community. Those close to him describe him as a compassionate man who volunteered his time to help young journalists and families working to achieve U.S. citizenship.
He was also a real estate agent and investor and was known for helping Hispanic and immigrant families build their credit and get into homes. But sometimes, his charitable effort created enemies.
“He gave people opportunities that wouldn't otherwise have those opportunities,” his son Gibran Torres said. “Sometimes, even though he was trying to help somebody, they would take advantage of the situation and then would end up having to evict someone.”
Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information that leads to Mejia’s arrest or grand jury indictment.
Tips can be submitted anonymously at www.garlandcrimestoppers.com or by calling the Garland Police Department at 972-485-4840.