Online photos led to detention officer murder suspect

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by Mike Getzman

azfamily.com

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 6:10 PM

PHOENIX – Court records released on Thursday reveal new details about how police put a case together against the teen accused of killing a detention officer.

Jorge Vargas, 27, worked for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. He was shot and killed in the driveway of his home near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road early in the morning of Aug. 8. He was working on his truck and getting ready to go to work.

Suicide attempt

The shell casings found at the scene where Vargas was murdered matched the casings in a suicide attempt on Jan. 2nd at a home near 83rd Avenue and Indian School Road.

Lab experts were able to determine the gun used in those incidents was a Smith & Wesson Sigma .40 caliber handgun.

Police said Ivan Montes was the person who attempted suicide with the gun. He told police he fired the gun into the ceiling instead of shooting himself. Montes claimed he passed out after taking drugs that day and when he woke up the gun was gone.

However, witnesses told detectives Montes had the gun after the suicide incident and sold it to Leonard Moreno.

Montes is facing charges of hindering prosecution and disorderly coduct.

Social media

Police used search warrants to access Facebook and Instagram accounts related to the investigation.

The information they found on those accounts included about Montes selling the gun for $350.

Moreno’s Instagram account had a photograph posted of a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson Sigma handgun and pictures of Moreno in possession of the handgun.

One of those pictures shows Moreno holding what appears to be a Smith & Wesson handgun with the comment “Did it once for fun. Don’t make me do it again n be serious haa.” That comment was posted on Aug. 8, according to police.

Another shooting

On Aug. 10, just after 3 a.m., 2 days after Vargas was gunned down, there was shooting near 39th Avenue and McDowell Road.

The victim was shot multiple times.

Moreno was identified as the suspect in that shooting. He has been charged with aggravated assault and drive-by shooting.

The shell casings from the drive-by shooting matched the shell casings recovered from the killing of Vargas.

DNA

Experts at the Phoenix Police Department Crime Laboratory conducted DNA testing on the shell casings recovered from the Vargas murder.

The testing showed a DNA match to Moreno, indicating he handled the bullets that were fired from the gun.

Cell Phone

An analysis of Moreno’s mobile phone records revealed the phone was connected to a cellular telephone tower near Vargas’s home.

Witness

A witness told police that a relative of Moreno told him when Moreno came home in the early hours of Aug. 8 he was out of breath and sweating. Moreno reportedly told his family a friend drove him home from a party.

That friend told police Moreno walked home from the area of 83rd Avenue and Cocopah Street to his house near 87th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road. That is in the area of Vargas’s home.

Moreno was carrying the handgun he purchased from Montes when he left the party, according to what that friend told police.

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