Medical examiner's office identifies burned body found after apartment fire on North Side

Ernesto Esquivel-Garcia, 20, charged with murder, arson, abuse of corpse

SAN ANTONIOUPDATE: The medical examiner's office identified the body found in a vacant North Side apartment after a fire as 20-year-old Jared Nathaniel Vargas.

The medical examiner said the death was caused by homicidal violence. 

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The 20-year-old accused of killing a man and burning his body in a vacant North Side apartment complex Monday night may have been living in the country illegally, according to ICE officials.

ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said the agency placed a detainer on Ernesto Esquivel-Garcia, meaning his immigration status is in question. 

Esquivel-Garcia is charged with murder, arson and abuse of a corpse in connection with the discovery of the badly burned body Monday evening inside a unit at the Veranda Apartments in the 7900 block of Jones Maltsberger Road.

According to neighbors, Esquivel-Garcia lived in the apartment where the corpse was located.

Online court records show Esquivel-Garcia was charged with obstructing a highway - intoxication and criminal mischief in March 2017. It's unclear why an ICE detainer wasn't placed on Esquivel-Garcia then.

Father believes body may be missing son

Gene Vargas said he hasn't heard from his 20-year-old son Jared Vargas since Saturday and that his son's car was found at the apartment complex where the fire occurred. Gene Vargas said a number on the vehicle's license plate was covered in white out and that paper covered the windows, which made him suspicious.

Gene Vargas said he is worried his son might be the individual who was found in the apartment. Officials have not identified the body, but said they have determined the victim was male.

"It's really stressful," Gene Vargas said Monday night. "It's just turned for the worst. We just don't know the details right now. We're very concerned -- very worried. If anybody knows anything, please come forward. We really need your help right now."

Jared Vargas was last seen leaving his job at Bowl and Barrel at the Rim Saturday around 4 p.m., according to a Facebook group dedicated to locating him. His last phone call was to police at 5:32 p.m. that same day.

The Vargas family named Esquivel-Garcia as a person of interest in Jared Vargas' disappearance prior to him being formally charged.

Jared Vargas and Ernesto Esquivel-Garcia worked together at Bowl and Barrel

According to staff at Bowl and Barrel, Esquivel-Garcia and Jared Vargas worked together at the entertainment venue. It's unclear how long they worked together or how Esquivel-Garcia obtained employment in light of his immigration status.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.

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