AUSTIN (KXAN) — A criminal investigator with the U.S. Marshals Service told KXAN his organization has been asked to help locate and bring in accused murderer Juan Eduardo Rendon, who Austin Police say killed his boyfriend and left his body in Onion Creek.
Austin police announced on Wednesday that they believe 20-year-old Rendon fled to Mexico to elude authorities.
“Investigators have credible information that Juan Eduardo Rendon has fled to Mexico. Detectives are in the process of seeking a provisional arrest warrant. This is a lengthy process involving multiple agencies.The provisional arrest warrant allows The District Attorney’s office to extradite the suspect back to the United States to stand trial.”
Brandon Filla, a deputy U.S. Marshal in Austin said his team will work with Austin Police, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and other law enforcement agencies to track Rendon down — a process which could take considerable time.
One of the biggest issues the U.S. Marshals face when a fugitive like Rendon crosses the border is working through legal processes to get to the Mexican government to help locate him and bring him back to the U.S. to face justice.
“Working fugitive cases, you want to be quick, you want to be rapid, you want to hit the ground running,” Filla said.
But a long legal process can slow things down.
Filla says APD will need to get a provisional arrest warrant from the Travis County district attorney. That warrant will have to go all the way to Washington, D.C. To be combed over by the justice department before finally getting to Mexican authorities to help make the arrest.
“It can go anywhere from a month to a year,” Filla said. “That country is the deciding factor on whether they would work with us to get that fugitive extradited back to the United States.”
Although it may take time, the Marshals will rely on over 200 years of experience to track Rendon down and bring him to justice.
“Fugitives on the run are always looking over their shoulders,” Filla said. “The Marshal service is here to assist to bring these individuals to justice wherever they may be.”
History of the crime
Juan Zapata, 38, was found dead by a person walking their dog along Onion Creek Drive near Springville Lane Sunday evening.
A witness told police Zapata and Rendon had been arguing the day before and that Zapata told her he had locked Rendon out of the house. According to police, Rendon had moved into the house about a month ago.
The witness told police she “expressed concern as Rendon had previously threatened to kill Zapata if he had ever tried leaving him,” authorities wrote in official police documents. She also told police she’d seen Rendon pick Zapata up from work the night before and that was the last time she’d heard from Zapata.
Apprehending fugitives in Texas
When a fugitive is on the loose here in our state, the U.S. Marshals rely heavily on the lone star fugitive task force, a group authorized by marshals and made up of law enforcement officers from different agencies across the state, including many of our local police departments.
By combining resources, the task force can share intel and make quicker fugitive arrests.
Tried in another country
It’s not known if the suspect in the Onion Creek murder is a Mexican citizen – but the Chicago Tribune reports that a Mexican national fleeing a crime committed in the U.S. and returns can be prosecuted in Mexico.
Article Four of Mexico’s penal code allows the country to try its own citizens of crimes committed abroad.
It’s usually a last resort for US prosecutors unable to bring suspects back.
According to officials, Mexico has prosecuted more than 100 fugitives under article four requests – mostly from California, Texas and other Southwestern states.
Tonight on KXAN News at 10, Alex Caprariello will share some of the hurdles U.S. law enforcement agencies face when a suspect flees across international borders.