Authorities make arrest in murder of U.S. Airways flight attendant

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PHOENIX -- Mexican authorities have arrested a man for the murder of a Phoenix-based U.S. Airways flight attendant.

Nick Aaronson, 27, was found beaten, bound, and strangled in his room at the Mexico City Hilton Hotel over the weekend. He was there on a layover.

Jose Manuel Ramirez Perez, 20, who goes by "El Sombra," or "The Shadow," was arrested Monday and confessed to beating and robbing Aaronson.

According to the Mexico City Attorney General's Office, Aaronson and Perez met at a bar and then went back to Aaronson's hotel room.

The two had sexual relations and then prosecutors say Perez beat Aaronson, tied him up and strangled him with a belt. He fled the hotel room with cash and other valuables.

Authorities in Mexico City say fingerprints belonging to Perez were found in the hotel room and he was seen entering and leaving the hotel on surveillance video. They arrested him at the same bar where he had picked up Aaronson. Perez had reportedly shaved his hair off to change his appearance.

Aaronson's mother, Anita Aaronson, is having difficulty coping with the brutal murder of her son.

Reached by phone at her California home, Anita told 3TV she wishes Mexico used the death penalty.

"I just can't stop crying thinking how he suffered when he died," Anita said.

Friends and colleagues remember Aaronson as a vivacious man with a great sense of humor who loved his job.

"He had an infectious smile. You couldn't' help but be positive around him. He loved what he did, loved being a flight attendant," said Deborah Volpe, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants Council 66.

Aaronson's body is set to be returned from Mexico City to his family later this week.

Funeral services are set for Saturday near his hometown of West Covina, Calif.

U.S. Airways flight attendants plan a memorial at Sky Harbor Airport for Thursday Nov. 10 at noon.