Las Cruces police have arrested a man suspected in the January death of his 67-year-old roommate.
Santino Rodriguez, 44, who used to live at 1727 Defiance Ave., is charged with an open count of murder for the January 2017 death of 67-year-old Karla Mann.
Investigators learned that Rodriguez lived with Karla Mann for several years. On Feb. 11, 2017, Rodriguez was transported to Memorial Medical Center, by ambulance. Investigators learned that Rodriguez summoned the ambulance to the home and met with paramedics outside the residence. The following day, concerned neighbors found Karla Mann deceased in her home.
An autopsy of Mann’s body revealed three separate areas of blunt trauma to her head that caused fractures. Medical investigators determined the skull fractures caused Mann’s death. Inside the garage, investigators found a hatchet with what appeared to be blood on it. In Rodriguez’s bedroom, investigators found a pink T-shirt with what appeared to be blood stains.
Evidence was sent to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Forensic Lab Bureau for processing. There, medical investigators discovered blood on the T-shirt and hatchet belonged to Mann. DNA recovered from the handle of the hatchet matched the DNA profile of Rodriguez.
Through interviews with a relative of Mann, and in reviewing phone records, investigators learned that a text message was sent from the victim’s cellphone on the evening of Feb. 12 indicated that she was “OK.” Detectives determined that Mann was unable to send the message since medical investigators believe she likely died in late January. On Feb. 13, investigators recovered Mann’s cellphone with Rodriguez at the hospital.
Investigators also learned that Rodriguez used Mann’s bank card eight times between Jan. 31 and Feb. 10. Investigators obtained surveillance video of Rodriguez using the bank card and learned that he was not listed on Mann’s bank account. Investigator also recovered video surveillance from Jan. 31 of Rodriguez wearing the pink T-shirt.
Rodriguez was arrested shortly before noon on Tuesday, Oct. 24. He was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is being held without bond.