Arlington

Second man jailed in death of mom selling jewelry for Christmas money

April Vancleave, 33, with her daughter, Lilly. Vancleave was killed Dec. 15 after trying to sell jewelry to raise money for Christmas.
April Vancleave, 33, with her daughter, Lilly. Vancleave was killed Dec. 15 after trying to sell jewelry to raise money for Christmas. Courtesy Vancleave Family

Being a Facebook friend to a capital murder suspect led to the arrest of a 25-year-old man now jailed on accusations that he robbed and fatally shot an Arlington woman trying to sell jewelry for Christmas money.

The suspect, who goes by a multitude of names including Alex Menor Diaz, was arrested Friday in Keller by officers assigned to a U.S. Marshal’s task force.

Investigators are still trying to confirm Diaz’s true identity, officials said. He is being held in the Arlington jail with bail set at $1 million. His mugshot was not available Friday afternoon.

Diaz and a second man, Mario Hernan Lopez Gamez, are accused of capital murder in connection with the Dec. 15 death of April Vancleave.

Gamez was arrested in Houston in February and remains in the Tarrant County Jail with bail set at $150,000 in the capital murder case.

He was indicted on the capital murder charge April 19, court records show. He also is being held on an unrelated robbery charge out of Mansfield.

Lopez Gamez
Mario Hernan Lopez Gamez was arrested in February. Handout Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office

Police have said that Vancleave, 33, was trying to complete an online exchange for Christmas money using a smartphone app.

Accompanied by her husband, she agreed to meet the buyer at the Target store at South Cooper Street and Arbrook Boulevard. When the buyer didn’t show, Vancleave and her husband drove back to their apartment complex about a mile away.

The husband dropped off Vancleave and headed to an appointment.

Witnesses told police that before Vancleave could make it inside her apartment, two men in a maroon Ford F-150 shot her and fled. Her jewelry and her purse are believed to have been stolen during the shooting.

Vancleave was taken to Medical Center Arlington but died in surgery from a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Police later released Target surveillance video of the two suspects, who were seen waiting at the store when the Vancleaves arrived and later getting into a maroon Ford pickup and following the couple’s vehicle as they left.

Gamez was eventually identified as a suspect in the case after police tracked data from online selling apps and cellphone records, and through witness interviews.

Diaz surfaced in the case in late February after family members of Vancleave began searching Gamez’s Facebook profile and found a man under his “friends” section who they believed could be the second suspect, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Family members forwarded screenshots of the Facebook page of the suspect, identified on Facebook as Alex Menor, to homicide Detective C. Blank. The pages included two pictures of a man who strongly resembled the second suspect in the case, as seen in Target surveillance video footage, the affidavit states.

In a search of a Samgung phone seized from the mobile home in Houston where Gamez was arrested, investigators found several phone and message exchanges between Gamez and Diaz starting in October through the day of Vancleave’s slaying.

On the day before the slaying, messages exchanged included a conversation about the men setting up something to make money, the affidavit states.

In May, search warrants executed on the two suspects’ Facebook accounts uncovered other possible aliases used by Diaz.

In setting bond on the warrant at $1 million, an Arlington municipal judge noted that Diaz is a flight risk as he is not a U.S. citizen and used multiple identities.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd

Arlington Police are looking for these 10 fugitives. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Call 817-469-8477. Police warn citizens not to attempt to arrest or detain of the subjects because they might be armed

 

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