Luiz Enrique Rodriguez, 51, found dead in Catawba County woods, suspects arrested

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CONOVER, N.C. — Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, two men were taken into custody on Thursday and charged with murder in connection with the death of a 51-year-old man who was found dead in the woods to the north of Conover last month. The body of Luiz Enrique Rodriguez was discovered on December 3, 2022 at around 3:40 p.m. in a forested area along Lee Cline Road near the intersection of Eckard Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Result concluded  after conducting autopsy

After conducting an autopsy on Rodriguez, the authorities found that he had been the victim of a murderous act as the method of his death. Investigators stated that they were able to identify the victim through the use of print analysis. Juan Jesus Santellan, 31, a resident of Hickory, was taken into custody on January 12 after investigators got information during the early morning hours of that day, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Santellan was arrested.

The accusations of murder were brought against Santellan. He is being detained without any bond being set. Angel Gustavo Gonzalez, age 29, was charged with Rodriguez’s homicide later on Thursday, according to the authorities. The individual is being held in custody without the possibility of bond, and his initial hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday in the district court of Catawba County.

Related article; Richard Lee Morris, 54, Identified as shallow grave body found behind Conover

The body of Richard Lee Morris, 54, whose remains were discovered on September 16 in Conover, have been identified. On August 26, 2021, Catawba County received a missing persons report for the Conover guy. According to the police, they were informed last month that a corpse might have been buried in the backyard of a house on Fourth Avenue Southwest. The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation provided assistance to the Conover Police Department, who claimed to have discovered what appeared to be a shallow grave at the residence.

The grave didn’t appear to be recent, but investigators claimed to have found evidence within. According to the police, an autopsy was conducted on the remains at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. It’s unclear what caused the death. Charges have not yet been brought. Conover Police Chief Eric Loftin said that once the autopsy report is received and the cause of death is known, the department will know how to move forward with the investigation.

The information will be collected, filed with the case file, and given to the district attorney’s office, according to Loftin. According to police, when they questioned the resident of the house, he admitted to them that he had buried a body in the backyard. Police were investigating for more than nine hours, according to neighbors who spoke to Channel 9. They claimed to be very curious about this case. Josh Goodwin claimed to have resided close to the incident for the past two years.

He expressed shock at the possibility that a body may have been buried only a few feet away. “Here, a family is attempting to start over, and I have four children. As a father and a spouse, this isn’t really what you want to see, Goodwin said. Leroy Miller, who also lives close to the house, stated that all he wants to know is what transpired. “I just thought that was amazing because I never see anyone out there.” Miller claimed that he had never seen anyone appear.

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