Crime

Garland Cops Name Suspect in Journalist's Murder

It seems that Jay Torres, the DFW-based La Estrella freelancer killed in the backyard of a Garland home last month, was not killed because he was a journalist.

Garland Police announced Tuesday afternoon that they are looking for Anibal Edilfredo Chirino Mejia, 23, of Garland. Mejia, police believe, killed Torres over a house sale gone bad.

Torres was found in the backyard of a rental property he was interested in on June 13 by Garland police. He'd been shot to death sometime around June 10. After Torres' murder police and public attention initially focused on his work as a journalist, and whether his reporting on immigration and Mexican cartels might have led to his being killed.

When police began tracing information gleaned from Torres' phone, however, they zeroed in on Mejia as a suspect. Mejia threatened to sue Torres, police said.

Torres, through his Oak Cliff-based real estate company The Establishment, had been sued several times in the past. For example, according to county records, Torres was most recently sued by a Dallas couple that claimed the journalist told them he would purchase their underwater home and then failed to do so. They realized this when the couple began receiving foreclosure paper work on the property. The couple, Scottie and Marie Halpert, eventually dropped the suit. Torres was also the subject of several other lawsuits based on things like improperly placed liens and the failure to return a security deposit in a timely manner.

Garland police have not said what property deal might've led to Mejia's threats and alleged attack, and his name does not appear on court records.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young