The undeveloped stretch of woods north of Garland's Firewheel Mall is exactly the type of spot where a Hollywood screenwriter would have the two panicked 16-year-old suburban kids, suddenly in way over their heads, dump their classmate's body. It's also, according to police, the type of spot where two panicked 16-year-old suburban kids go to dump their classmate's body.
Garland cops were called to the area at about 9:30 on Saturday night after a passerby found it strange to see a car veering into the trees off State Highway 78. Police first found the empty car, then the two 16-year-olds trying to flee. Asked what they were doing, one of the teens, neither of whom have been identified because of their age, replied that they were "burying a body."
Sure enough, officers rather quickly came upon a fresh corpse.
The body belonged to 17-year-old Ivan Mejia, the two teens' classmate at Wylie East High School. Police haven't said yet exactly how he was killed or why, just that murder took place Saturday behind Wylie East, and that the whole thing was planned in advance by the two teens, both of whom have been charged with murder.
(Update at 4:26 p.m.: Prosecutors told a judge today that Mejia was choked to death. The two suspects had been planning the murder for almost a week, probably over a girl. They choked Mejia, put him in a headlock, then taped a sock in his mouth, holding his nose shut to make sure he suffocated.)
the two suspects choked and suffocated Mejia, then put him in a headlock. To ensure he was dead one of the suspects held Mejia's nose shut and the other put a sock in his mouth and then taped it over.
Police believe the murder was planned for nearly a week. Prosecutors told a judge the motive for the murder was likely over a relationship with a girl that Mejia was dating, causing jealousy for one of the suspects.
Making the scenario even more unsettling is that Mejia isn't the first Wylie East student in recent memory to be murdered by his peers. Two years ago, a couple of 14-year-old students shot 15-year-old Nahum Martinez in the head, then dragged his body to a drainage ditch near their subdivision.
"The entire Wylie ISD community is shocked and saddened by this senseless act," the district said in a statement on Sunday. "We are cooperating with the police as they investigate, and we hope they will be able to provide us with some understanding how this tragedy unfolded."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.