Suspect charged in decapitation in Las Cruces - Albuquerque Journal

Suspect charged in decapitation in Las Cruces

A suspect is accused of decapitating a man near a Las Cruces park and playing “soccer with his head,” kicking it at cars parked in the neighborhood, according to court records.

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Joel Arciniega-Saenz (SOURCE: Doña Ana County Detention Center)

Joel Arciniega-Saenz, 25, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder Sunday night after police found him sitting in Apodaca Park in Las Cruces with bloodstains on his hands and shoes, according to a probable-cause statement filed in Doña Ana County Magistrate Court.

A Las Cruces police officer said he found the decapitated body of James Garcia, 51, and his severed head about 10 yards away, in a street bordering Apodaca Park.

According to the court document:

Arciniega-Saenz told the officer he had gone to the park to confront Garcia about some stolen items, then took a switchblade knife from Garcia, stabbed him several times and cut off his head.

Arciniega-Saenz told the officer that “he dragged (Garcia’s) body into the street and then played soccer with his head,” the officer wrote. Ariniega-Saenz said “that he kicked (Garcia’s) head at 14 different cars.”

Also missing from Garcia’s body was the middle finger of his right hand, which police found in a pool of blood in the park.

Arciniega-Saenz also had dried blood on his hands, on his shirt, the soles of his shoes and behind his ear.

Arciniega-Saenz told police he was homeless. He alleged that Garcia had raped his wife four years earlier but refused to identify his wife. The three of them “were hanging out together” four days before the killing when Arciniega-Saenz and his wife fell asleep, the statement said.

He alleged that “when they woke up (Garcia) was gone along with all their stuff.”

Court records show that Arciniega-Saenz was charged in 2017 with first-degree murder in the death of Benjamin Montoya but the charge was dropped in 2018.

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