Green Bay man accused of mutilating corpse found on UWGB trail
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Criminal charges were formally filed Friday against a Green Bay man, accusing him of burning a body found along a trail at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay last September.
Jeisaac Rodriguez-Garcia, 29, is charged with one count of being party to the crime of mutilating a corpse, a felony that carries more than 12 years in prison if he’s convicted.
Prosecutors’ complaint against Rodriguez-Garcia says he gave conflicting stories to investigators about what he was doing and where he was on September 28 or the day before. DNA tests that came back earlier this month linked Rodriguez-Garcia to a sock found near the body and a blood stain found inside the van.
On September 28, officers responded to a report of a grass fire. The person who reported the fire believed it was intentionally set and said they saw a large truck leave the area. Officers discovered a body off the trail was set on fire. Investigators found a fuel package and a burn pattern and determined gasoline was used for setting the victim’s body on fire. The victim was eventually identified as Jason Mendez-Ramos, 36, from Ashwaubenon.
Investigators believe Ramos was killed elsewhere and that there was no connection between the crime and the campus. The criminal complaint doesn’t offer any details about Ramos’s death, only what their investigation found leading to Rodriguez-Garcia’s arrest.
A doorbell camera helped investigators identify a light-colored van at the scene of the crime. A fire ignites, then the van leaves. Investigators got a break in the case a few days later with an anonymous report of a van fitting the description of the one police were looking for. The van was outside Rodriguez-Garcia’s home but it was registered to another person, had expired registration and unpaid parking tickets. Police seized the van as evidence and questioned the owner, Pedro Santiago Marquez.
Marquez told police he let one of his employees, Jeisaac Rodriguez-Garcia, borrow the van on September 24. He said Rodriguez-Garcia told him he needed to van because he was moving.
Marquez said he knew the victim and was aware he was dead. He talked to Ramos on the phone on September 27 and saw him briefly that morning as Marquez was leaving work. A man who rents a shop from Marquez said he also saw Ramos around 12:30 that afternoon. Marquez said the victim apparently wanted to talk to him, but he didn’t really know what it was about. He later said Ramos worked for him until about a month-and-a-half earlier and Marquez still owed him about $1,000 for past work.
Rodriguez-Garcia talked to police and said he was in Wisconsin Dells the weekend before the murder and didn’t get home until September 28. He said he borrowed a van from Marquez on September 29 -- the day after the murder -- and called Marquez the next day to pick it up. He also said he worked for Marquez for three months but quit because he wasn’t getting paid. He said he knew the victim when they worked for the same business but otherwise had no relationship with him.
Rodriguez-Garcia’s sister was also questioned by police and said their family, including Rodriguez-Garcia’s girlfriend, were at a resort in the Wisconsin Dells from September 24 until about 3:30 in the afternoon on September 28. However, the defendant’s girlfriend told police they came back the night of September 27. Police checked with the sister’s employer, who said she didn’t show up at work on September 27 but was at work the next day starting at 5 A.M.
Police questioned Rodriguez-Garcia again, now with cell phone records tracking his whereabouts and records of two brief calls around midnight between him and Marquez on WhatsApp. Rodriguez-Garcia changed his story several times during questioning, including saying he was home all night despite call phone records showing him traveling at midnight from the area of Marquez’s towing business to University Avenue in the direction of UWGB.
Rodriguez-Garcia contended he never drove the van and said maybe it was parked at his home after the murder to frame him. He also told police he was afraid that “Pedro or others would find out he was talking with police and that something could happen to him or his family.”
Garcia has no criminal history in the state court system. His Facebook page says he’s from Puerto Rico and moved to Green Bay about one year ago.
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