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Mesa PD: 4 charged in connection to apartment homicide

PHOENIX — Police in Mesa began investigating the disappearance of a woman believed to be 27-year-old Vanessa Mendoza after receiving a call around 8 a.m. Thursday of a disturbance at an apartment located near Dobson Road and Southern Avenue. When officers arrived at the apartment, it was empty but showed signs of an altercation having taken place.

After two days of searching for the missing woman, Mendoza was found early in the morning Sunday with her boyfriend Genaro Silva inside a Chandler home.

According to Detective Steve Berry of the Mesa Police Department, the two were detained on scene and the investigation has now been upgraded to homicide-related.

Berry said that while Mendoza refused to talk, Silva told police that on the afternoon of March 15 he found his girlfriend inside the Mesa apartment with 39-year-old Daniel Barraza Gomez.

Silva said that he struck the victim several times with a hammer, which ultimately killed him.

In a press release Sunday, Mesa Police said that Silva, Mendoza, Sylvia Olivas (Mendoza’s mother) and Christopher Alejo were all allegedly at the apartment when the victim was rolled off the bedding and into a vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a desert location on the Salt River Pima Indian Community, where it was then set on fire and left to burn in a dry wash.

All four have been charged in the case, but Silva was the only suspect to be booked on one count of second degree murder.

Silva notified detectives as to the location of the victim’s body and remains were recovered.