Woman once considered missing arrested in homicide case


by Andrew Michalscheck

Video report by Jason Volentine

Posted on March 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 24 at 5:13 PM

Map: Near Southern & Dobson

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MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa woman who was once feared injured or possibly dead is now behind bars facing charges related to a homicide.

Police said Vanessa Mendoza, 27, was arrested this weekend and booked into jail for hindering prosecution and concealment of a dead body.

Authorities became concerned for Mendoza’s safety on March 21 when officers responded to her apartment near Southern Avenue and Dobson Road after receiving reports of a fight.

Police found blood and signs of a struggle inside the apartment, but Mendoza was nowhere to be found.

At the time, police weren’t sure what type of case they were dealing with.

Police said they discovered that a homicide had taken place at Mendoza’s apartment when they eventually located Mendoza and her boyfriend, Genaro Silva, at a home in Chandler.

Mendoza reportedly declined to speak with investigators, but police said Silva revealed that he had gone to Mendoza’s apartment on March 15 to find her together with 39-year-old Daniel Barraza Gomez.

Silva allegedly told authorities that he hit Gomez multiple times with a hammer, eventually killing him.

Later that day, Mendoza’s mother, Sylvia Olivas, and a man named Christopher Alejo visited the apartment.

Alejo, 43, reportedly stole money from Gomez and then helped Silva roll Gomez’s body in bedding and remove it from the apartment.

Gomez’s body was loaded into a vehicle and taken to a desert location on the Salt River Pima Indian Community where it was placed in a dry wash and set on fire.

Police said Silva told them where they had burned the body, and detectives were able to locate the remains.

Silva, 31, has since been charged with one count of second degree murder, hindering prosecution, and concealment of a dead body.

Alejo is charged with robbery, hindering prosecution, and concealment of a dead body.

Olivas, 44, was also arrested and charged with concealment of a dead body.