Suspects arrested nearly 3 years after teen found beaten, dead in Elmendorf

Affidavit: Suspect was upset with victim over $10 debt

Bobby G. Tovar and Manuel Guzman-Escalante were charged with manslaughter, records with the Bexar County Jail show. (Bexar County Jail)

ELMENDORF, Texas – Two men were arrested nearly three years after the body of a 17-year-old was found on a property in Elmendorf.

Bobby G. Tovar, Jr., 21, and Manuel Guzman-Escalante, 18, are each charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, records with the Bexar County Jail show. They were both taken into custody on Wednesday and their bonds are each set at $125,000.

Tovar and Guzman-Escalante are accused in the death of Oscar Rangel.

Rangel’s family had reported him missing on Dec. 31, 2020, when he didn’t return from a friend’s house. His body was found that morning near a home in the 400 block of South 2nd Avenue in Elmendorf.

An arrest warrant affidavit from the Texas Rangers states Rangel was barefoot and only wearing a T-shirt and boxers. He had bruises and abrasions on his face, and authorities said “illicit drug” use was detected.

His toxicology report later showed flualprazolam, what the DEA calls a synthetic benzodiazepine substance, was in his system, investigators said.

Because his bare feet were clean and his body was concealed on the property, authorities believed he was dumped there.

The affidavit states the night before he was found dead, Rangel was at a home with Tovar, Guzman-Escalante and two other people and they were consuming narcotics.

A witness said he saw the lights at the home turned off but later saw Tovar’s truck backed up to the front porch at approximately 9 p.m. on Dec. 30.

When detectives interviewed Tovar on June 15, 2023, he said that he and Guzman-Escalante had left the home and met with a friend in San Antonio. Tovar said he had left Rangel on the couch, as Rangel was “highly intoxicated,” the affidavit states.

Tovar claimed they stayed with their friend all night, and didn’t know Rangel was reported missing.

In an interview on June 16, 2023, Guzman-Escalanate said he and Tovar were the last two people with Rangel inside the home.

After further questioning, Guzman-Escalante said “this is going to f*** me up” and “Bobby’s parents are going to hate us,” the affidavit states.

Guzman-Escalante added that Tovar had a “rage” and “intentions” against Rangel over a $10 debt, according to investigators.

On the night Rangel died, Guzman-Escalante said Tovar walked Rangel outside the home because he was “pissing” himself, the affidavit states.

Tovar reversed his truck to the front porch, and Rangel was placed in the bed of the pickup.

Guzman-Escalante said he thought Tovar was going to drive Rangel home but at some point, Tovar made a U-turn and parked in a lot. Tovar said he “was tired of his s***” and removed Rangel from the bed, Guzman-Escalante told investigators.

Guzman-Escalante said Tovar carried Rangel’s body to the side of a house, dropped him on the ground and punched him multiple times, the affidavit states.

Rangel was non-responsive and Guzman-Escalante believed Tovar had “knocked him out.” Guzman-Escalante told authorities he couldn’t hold Tovar back.

During another interview on Oct. 31, 2023, Tovar continued to deny any involvement but then started to cry, the affidavit states. Tovar said the evidence was overwhelming and believed someone was trying to frame him.

The warrants for both of their arrests were signed this week.

Following his arrest on Wednesday, Tovar said he saw Guzman-Escalante punch Rangel in the face, causing him to fall down the front steps of the porch, the affidavit states.

Tovar said Guzman-Escalante was the one who placed Rangel’s body on the ground.

Cellphone data also showed that on Jan. 6, 2021, Guzman-Escalante and Tovar spoke about matching their stories before getting questioned by police.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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