A two-day extensive search by police of a vacant house in southwest Fort Worth led to the recovery of a body, officials said Wednesday.
Sources told the Star-Telegram that the body is that of a man and that the discovery is believed to be connected to last month’s slaying of a couple found buried in a shallow grave behind an Arlington house.
Officer Jimmy Pollozani, a Fort Worth police spokesman, said officers went to the home in the 6400 block of Woodway Drive on Tuesday after receiving a call from Arlington police, who said they had been tipped off about a missing person connected to that address.
He said the body was recovered from inside the house Wednesday.
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The discovery comes one month after Arlington police uncovered the bodies of Erick “Diablo” Zelaya and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Iris Chirinos, in a shallow grave behind a house in the 200 block of Burton Drive.
Zelaya’s severed head had been found Sept. 2 near a man-made walking trail not far from AT&T Stadium. Near the head, police found a sign that read “La Raza Se Resreta y Faltan 4.” Loosely translated, the message appears to be, “The race, or group, must be respected and there’s only four left.”
Two men — Hector “Cholo” Acosta-Ojeda, 28, and Mariano Sanchez-Pina, 18 — were arrested in connection with the Arlington case. Acosta-Ojeda is charged with capital murder in connection with the couple’s slayings and Sanchez is charged with murder in connection with Zelaya’s death. Both remain in the Tarrant County Jail.
Documents indicate that the couple were both shot multiple times and that Zelaya was also cut with a machete.
Lt. Christopher Cook, an Arlington police spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that detectives investigating the double homicide received a tip about a missing man in Fort Worth and notified Fort Worth police.
“It was during the course of our investigation related to our double murder that a citizen came forward with information believing that a man had been killed in Fort Worth back in July,” Cook said.
‘Something crazy going on’
Residents in the the southwest Fort Worth neighborhood where the body was found Wednesday said they had noticed several Fort Worth police officers at the house Tuesday afternoon. They said they watched as investigators entered the home with shovels and buckets and later heard the sound of jackhammers or drilling.
Officers could also be seen Wednesday entering and exiting the one-story house wearing masks covering their mouths and latex gloves.
Pollozani declined to say where the body was found inside the house and whether it was buried. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office will identify the remains, he said.
The house, located near Southwest High School, Woodway Elementary School and across the street from a Texas Department of Public Safety office, has been vacant for months and recently had a for sale sign and a “We Buy Houses” sign in the yard, nearby residents say.
Police say the house was in the process of being renovated.
Reuben Clark, who lives nearby, said he had seen a crime scene van back up to the home Tuesday evening as he returned from the store but didn’t think anything of it.
He assumed “somebody’s house just got broken into or something of that nature,” he said.
But when his son mentioned to him Wednesday morning that several police cars were back at the house, he walked down to see it for himself.
“There’s got to be something crazy going on,” Clark said.
His son, Cedrick Clark, said he had seen a man working and sometimes staying overnight at the house almost two months ago, as if preparing it to be sold.
“I stopped and asked him about the house and he was saying, ‘Right now, we’re not ready ...,’ ” Cedrick Clark said. “I even asked him if I could look inside, He said, ‘No, not right now. It’s just messy everywhere.’ I didn’t even worry about it.”
Clark said he saw police carry out multiple brown bags, presumably filled with evidence, Tuesday. Given the number of police cars at the house and that investigators have been there for two days, Cedrick Clark said he suspects foul play.
“With all that I’ve seen, it’s got to be some type of homicide,” Cedrick Clark said. “... It’s death. Whatever it is. It’s death.”