A 25-year-old suspect is facing charges after Georgia authorities say he brutally murdered his elderly Black neighbor, then carved his body into bloody pieces.
Robert Page was discovered dead Nov. 8 just hours after family members had reported him missing, local station WSB-TV reported. Clayton County police tracked down suspect Christian Ponce Martinez after a neighbor’s surveillance video captured him on Page’s property earlier in the day.
Police rushed to search Page’s home but made a grim discovery next door.
“Officers went to the back of the residence and located the offender hiding under a couch, acting very nervous and suspicious,” police Maj. Craig Hammer said. “Officers then noticed a trail of blood. They followed it and it was Robert Page’s dismembered remains.”
Parts of his body were hidden under two tarps in the backyard, and more were stuffed in a cooler, according to police.
A motive for the heinous killing remains unclear, but investigators said it appeared the two men may have had some sort of argument at Page’s home prior to his death. According to 11 Alive, Martinez had moved into the home next door just three months ago from Mexico and was renting a room there. Police said they don’t believe the men knew each other.
Authorities are now working to determine if Martinez came to the U.S. legally. This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials confirmed it has a hold on Martinez but said he isn’t in the custody of the agency, the news station reported.
Authorities charged the suspect with malice murder but tacked on an obstruction charge Friday for his alleged behavior at the police department. Police said Martinez has not only been uncooperative with the investigation, but even combative at times. He is currently being held at the Clayton County Jail without bail, according to WSB-TV.
Relatives of the slain man described him as a loving, caring individual.
“He’s irreplaceable. The personality he had was priceless,” Page’s grandson, Bobby Austin, said. “Nobody will ever be able to top him.”
“Even if you weren’t related to him, if he saw that you were a younger nice person, he would say, ‘You’re my grandson or granddaughter’ or ‘You’re my son or daughter,’ something like that,” Austin added. “He was a very (embracing) person … and to go in such a tragic way, it just hit us all really hard at the moment.”
Page’s wife, Lula, said her husband of nearly 50 years rarely left the house but was always friendly with other residents in the neighborhood.
Clayton County authorities said their investigation into the killing is ongoing.
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