UPDATE: The Las Cruces man accused of murdering his mother and then fleeing the state is in federal custody in Otero County, New Mexico, according to the Las Cruces district attorney’s office.
He is being held for federal crimes committed in Texas and will not be released until his federal case is completed.
According to court documents, Waller was wanted on an outstanding warrant from a traffic stop on Fort Bliss in the summer of 2022. Federal court documents allege he had seven and a half fentanyl pills when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Upon his arrest, he allegedly possessed 7.3 grams of suspected fentanyl pills.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A 29-year-old Las Cruces man is accused of murdering his mother inside her home last November before fleeing the state in her vehicle.
In court documents filed Thursday, Dillon Waller is charged with first degree murder and tampering with evidence connected to the death of his mother, Cynthia Berendzen, inside her home in the 4000 block of Calle de Estrellas in Las Cruces.
Berendzen was reported missing by her family on Nov. 17, 2022, after they could not contact her. U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego, California, located her Buick Encleve and four dogs. Four days later, on November 21, 2022, Las Cruces Police entered her house and located her body inside the shower of a rear bedroom. Court documents state Berendzen was in the advanced stages of decomposition, and neighbors told authorities the last time they’d seen Berendzen was around Nov. 14, 2022.
Documents state Berendzen’s home showed signs of a recent cleaning, including bleach odor. Investigators said there also appeared to be a place on the floor between couches where a large rug was removed, and no plates, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, or pans were in the kitchen. The carpets in the room connecting to the bathroom where Berendzen was found showed signs they had recently been vacuumed.
Court records showed Berendzen had a protective order against her son, Dillon Waller, issued on Oct. 9, 2022.
On April 6, Waller was arrested on outstanding warrants and interviewed by Las Cruces Police investigators. He initially spun a tale that implicated a transgender woman named “‘Bianca” as responsible for her death but later admitted he was lying. According to court documents, Waller eventually admitted placing a plastic trash bag over his mother’s face while sleeping. He allegedly told authorities she struggled with him, and he then placed his hands around her neck and strangled her until she stopped fighting him.
He allegedly told investigators that he left his mother’s body in her bedroom for five days while he cleaned her home with chemicals and cleaning agents and threw away items. He claimed Bianca helped him position his mother’s body in the shower to make it appear as if she’d slipped. Court documents state he also used that time to drain his mother’s bank account. Waller claimed he left Las Cruces with Bianca to go to Tijuana but was stranded once U.S. Border Patrol agents seized the car parked at the port of entry with the four dogs inside. Authorities were never able to substantiate whether Bianca was an actual person.
Eventually, Waller made it back to Las Cruces via bus, where he lived on the streets until his arrest last week. According to court documents, Waller was wanted on an outstanding warrant from a traffic stop on Fort Bliss in the summer of 2022. Federal court documents allege he had seven and a half fentanyl pills when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Upon his arrest, he allegedly possessed 7.3 grams of suspected fentanyl pills.
According to court affidavits, Waller told investigators he feared his mother would be going to jail soon for a civil issue she was involved in, and he did not want to see her suffer due to her existing health problems while in jail. A search of New Mexico court documents only shows closed civil cases involving Berendzen from 2018. It’s unclear what civil matter, if any, Waller was referring to.
Waller is being held without bond in the Doña Ana County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.