Las Cruces man decapitated victim in Apodaca Park murder: affidavit

Las Cruces News

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of the crime.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The suspect accused of brutally murdering a 51-year-old man at Apodaca Park in Las Cruces, N.M., on Sunday reportedly decapitated the victim and kicked his head at 14 different cars.

According to court documents, Joel Arciniega-Saenz is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 51-year-old James Garcia, whose body was found Sunday night in the roadway on Madrid Avenue on the north side of the park. An officer with the Las Cruces Police Department found Garcia’s head about 10 yards from the rest of his body. Garcia also had several stab wounds to his upper body and his middle right finger had been removed.

Arciniega-Saenz was later arrested at Apodaca Park after officers found him with bloodstains on his hands and boots and a bloody knife was reportedly found in the ground near him. He surrendered to the police without resisting.

Arciniega-Saenz told investigators that he is homeless and sleeps at Apodaca Park. According to a statement in court documents, Arciniega-Saenz said that Garcia raped his wife four years ago, however, he did not identify his wife. He said that the three of them were hanging out together four days prior to the murder and on Sunday, he and his wife fell asleep. When he awoke, Garcia was gone, along with all of their stuff. Arciniega-Saenz told investigators that he went to Apodaca Park to confront Garcia.

Arciniega-Saenz alleged that he took a switchblade knife from Garcia and stabbed him several times before decapitating him. He then dragged Garcia’s body into the street and “then played soccer with his head.” He said he kicked the victim’s head at 14 different cars.

This is not the first time Arciniega-Saenz has been charged with murder. LCPD officers arrested him in 2017 in connection to the murder of 21-year-old Benjamin Montoya at a Las Cruces motel. Charges were later dismissed.

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