Oregon man charged in Vancouver resident's stabbing death

Sspect in April incident found in Calif. in May

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: June 7, 2012, 8:03 PM

 
photoMiguel A. Gonzalez

An Oregon man was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection to the April stabbing death of a Vancouver resident.

Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 32, of Beaverton was charged with the first-degree murder of Jose Luis Chavira-Cruz, 37. Gonzalez is currently being held in the Washington County, Ore., Jail on theft charges.

The case took several weeks to unfold. The first inkling something was amiss came on April 25, when the victim’s girlfriend filed a missing persons report with the Hillsboro, Ore., Police Department.

After detectives found and interviewed Gonzalez and investigated the case further, here’s what they believed happened:

• Gonzalez eventually told investigators that Chavira-Cruz was stabbed on April 13 by a man he knew only as “Gordo” in the parking lot of the Evergreen Pointe Apartments, 4503 E. Fifth St., where the victim lived. Gonzalez said he accompanied “Gordo” to the apartment to confront the victim.

“Miguel stated Gordo was Jose’s lover, who found Jose was having relationships with other men,” according to the arrest warrant filed by Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson. “Miguel told the detectives that he went with Gordo to confront Jose because he blamed Jose for getting him fired from his job.”

Vancouver police haven’t discovered whether there is another murder suspect at large. No one, besides the suspect, has seen or heard about “Gordo.”

“The investigation is ongoing to determine if there is, in fact, a Gordo and who he is,” said Vancouver police Sgt. Scott Creager.

“Gordo” translates as the Spanish word for “fat.”

Gonzalez told police that “Gordo” stabbed the man twice in the heart and then put the body in the back of a pickup truck. Gonzalez told police the two of them then drove to an area past Mount Hood and left the body at the end of a secluded road on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Gonzalez then allegedly left the victim’s bloody truck and a blood-soaked shirt in a Gresham, Ore., parking lot. The shirt had two rips in the chest, which could have been made by stab wounds.

“The same day, Miguel went to Jose’s apartment and packed up Jose’s clothing, which he placed into a vehicle associated with Jose,” the arrest warrant said. “He said he did this to make it look like Jose moved away.”

• On April 14, the victim’s girlfriend said she received suspicious text messages from Chavira-Cruz’s phone asking for $4,000. The text messages said he would send an associate, Gonzalez, to pick up the money at a meeting spot.

Gonzalez met the girlfriend driving Chavira-Cruz’s red Honda Civic.

The girlfriend “had no contact with Jose, or anyone alleging to be Jose, since that date,” the arrest warrant said.

• On May 10, Gonzalez was arrested in Roseville, Calif., on an outstanding warrant and found to be in possession of two of the dead man’s debit cards. Investigators flew to California to interview him.

• On May 24, authorities found the dead man’s body, on the reservation off Highway 26 in Oregon. Dental records showed it was Chavira-Cruz.

It wasn’t immediately known when Gonzalez will be extradited to Clark County to make his first court appearance. Prosecutors asked in court documents that he be held without bail.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.