MIDLAND COUNTY, Texas (Nexstar)- Investigators say Saffire Armenta, whose body was found after being set on fire in Midland County earlier this month, was murdered by her boyfriend.
Sergio Antonio Cerna, 37, was charged with Capital Murder on Tuesday in Reeves County after tips pointed the Midland County Sheriff’s Office in his direction. According to a probable cause affidavit, Armenta’s family told MCSO the victim was in a relationship with Cerna and that they had last seen her in El Paso on October 27 when she came for a visit.
On November 8, nearly a week after Armenta’s body was found, Cerna was arrested in Reeves County and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. At that time, because of the on-going investigation in Midland, a cell phone belonging to Cerna was seized and placed into evidence, according to the affidavit.
Then, on November 9, MCSO investigators interviewed Cerna in the Reeves County Jail. Cerna told investigators that he did not kill Armenta, nor did he set her on fire. According to the affidavit, Cerna told MCSO he had last seen Armenta on October 28 when she “ran off with” eight ounces of crystal meth.
On November 10, MCSO executed a search warrant on Cerna’s phone. Investigators said phone records indicated Cerna called and texted Armenta throughout the day on November 2, the same day her burned body was found. The affidavit said the text messages included several threats made toward Armenta. One text said, “Your car is going to be burned down then you will be next”. In another text, Cerna told Armenta he wanted to see her “plead for your fingers and your life”.
An agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety administered a polygraph test to Cerna in Reeves County on November 11. The affidavit said when Cerna was told he had failed the polygraph test, he began to change his story.
Investigators said in the affidavit, they believe Cerna threatened Armenta and killed her in retaliation for stealing drugs from him and calling the police on him.
As of Wednesday, Cerna was being held in Reeves County on bonds of more than a million dollars.