SAN ANTONIO – A 45-year-old man is facing a murder charge after police said he hid a body in a garage for several days and tried to dispose it Monday in a field on the city's South Side.
Richard Rodriguez Jr. was taken into custody about 3:48 p.m. Monday, which was around the same time police discovered the body of a man in the 700 block of Gillette Boulevard.
Officer Doug Greene, a spokesman with the San Antonio Police Department, said the case surrounding Rodriguez began around 1 a.m. Monday when officers received a report about a dead body at a home in the 300 block of Regina Street.
A witness called police after reporting a foul odor coming from a garage in the backyard and feet sticking out from a tarp that was covering a body.
When police arrived at the home, Greene said the body had been removed. Detectives suspected the person who moved it was Rodriguez.
The description of the vehicle that Rodriguez fled in was shared by police. When officers later spotted it, they attempted to stop the vehicle but Rodriguez sped off and a chase began, Greene said.
Despite the chase being authorized by a supervisor, officers ruled it was too dangerous to continue due to the severe weather early Monday morning, Greene said.
Greene said officers later found the vehicle abandoned near Interstate 35 and Linden Avenue.
Around 4 p.m., police received a report about the victim's body found in a field near the intersection of Gillette Boulevard and Escalon Avenue. Around that same time, Greene said Rodriguez was taken into custody and later confessed to investigators about dumping the man's body.
Detectives suspect Rodriguez and the victim, who is believed to be in his mid-50s, engaged in an argument over a cellphone, which ultimately turned violent and led to the man's death on June 13, Greene said.
As he was being escorted by police, Rodriguez claimed his innocence, saying the incident was an act of self defense and that the man pulled a knife on him.
"I slapped him, he punched me, I punched him back and (he) pulled a knife ... how is that murder?" Rodriguez said.
"He took my phone, he said it was his and I told him 'No,'" Rodriguez said.
Before being transported, Rodriguez claimed he and the man were fighting over the knife and that he did not know how the man stopped breathing.
Greene said the crime scene at the garage shows evidence of a body being in the garage.
Homicide detectives ruled there was enough probable cause to charge Rodriguez with murder, Greene said.