A man arrested in Ohio has been charged for the murder of a 19-year-old Minneapolis woman.
Police discovered the body of a Yadhira Romero Martinez during a welfare check at a residence on the 3000 block of 18th Avenue South last Friday, April 23. Police originally stated she died of "unnatural causes," though a criminal complaint reveals that she was found dead on a mattress with "apparent trauma to her body."
Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga, 23, of Minneapolis, was detained in Ohio the day Martinez was found dead and he is now being held on $1 million bail, with his extradition to Minnesota pending.
Prosecutors submitted a second-degree murder charge in Hennepin County District Court Wednesday morning, having amended the original criminal complaint that charged him with aiding and abetting and offender – a charge that helped activate a nationwide warrant for his arrest.
Cuenca-Zuniga fled to Ohio, charges say
The person who called police to conduct a welfare check on Martinez said she witnessed Cuenca-Zuniga leave the room he rents on the morning of April 23. She said she could see the feet of a woman on a mattress on the floor of the room, with Cuenca-Zuniga telling the witness that the woman in his room "had too much to drink" and she was "passed out."
The witness said Cuenca-Zuniga then locked his door and left. The witness went to check on Martinez at 12:30 p.m. the same day, and when no one answered the door she called for a welfare check. Minneapolis Fire Department conducted the welfare check and found Martinez dead.
According to a criminal complaint, a medical examiner ruled that Martinez died of homicide from "multiple traumatic injuries."
Cuenca-Zuniga's landlord told police that she suspected something unusual was going on with him so she recorded video on her phone of Cuenca-Zuniga getting into a car with Minnesota license plates and leaving Friday morning.
Cellphone data helped police locate him in Ohio later that night, and he was stopped by Ohio State Highway Patrol driving a vehicle that matched the description of the one he left Minnesota in.
Surveillance video from a neighboring residence showed Martinez and Cuenca-Zuniga arriving at his rental property just after 6 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Cuenca-Zuniga is then seen leaving the rental the next morning, first at 9:27 a.m. and then again at 10:18 a.m.
In a GoFundMe campaign created to help cover funeral expenses for Martinez, it says that Martinez was last seen Thursday getting into a ride-share from work. Police have said that there was no link between a ride-share and her death.
The GoFundMe notes that Martinez was born in the U.S. but moved to Mexico with her parents, where she lived most of her life before moving to Minnesota in January "in hopes of a better future and opportunity."