Green Bay business owner charged with murder in UWGB trail body case

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 10:02 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2022 at 4:39 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Green Bay business owner was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of a man whose body was set on fire near the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus back in September.

Police earlier announced the arrest of Pedro A. Santiago-Marquez and a second person, Alexander Burgos-Mojica. Burgos-Mojica is charged with harboring or aiding a felon. Both were arrested on Tuesday.

Santiago-Marquez and a third defendant, Jeisaac Rodriguez-Garcia, are accused of being party to the crime of mutilating a corpse. Rodriguez-Garcia was charged last month.

As we’ve reported, officers responded on September 28 to a report of a grass fire near the UWGB campus. 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 against Marquez cites a witness saying Marquez owed Ramos $80,000 from a cocaine deal. The witness also told police Marquez said he was going to “pop” Ramos. When police asked the witness to clarify, the witness “motioned with his hand like a gun.”

He told police Burgos-Mojica told him days later that Marquez shot Ramos in the head. The criminal complaint says that matched up with the autopsy which found a gunshot wound to the back of the victim’s head.

According to that witness: The day before Ramos’s body was found, Ramos refused to leave Marquez’s business on East Mason St. The witness came back to Marquez’s business later that afternoon and saw the victim’s car in the parking lot. He saw Marquez and Burgos-Mojica and was told to get out; “he could tell something was up.” Later the same day, Marquez called and asked him to move the victim’s car from the lot. The witness said he got his cousin to do it because he didn’t want to be associated with the car, which he believed to have drugs or a considerable amount of money in it. When police asked if his cousin found anything in the car, he said cousin took a wallet, satchel, and a small amount of money.

Another witness told police she went to Marquez’s shop on that day when the victim’s car was moved and heard Burgos-Mojica talking about cleaning the floors with bleach and that Marquez offered to pay her to bleach the inside of a van but she declined. Marquez said they needed to disinfect the area because of rats.

According to prosecutors, a doorbell camera helped investigators identify a light-colored van at the scene of the crime. Police received an anonymous tip of a van matching the one police were looking for led parked outside Rodriguez-Garcia’s home. The van was registered to Pedro Santiago Marquez. It had expired registration and unpaid parking tickets.

At the time, Marquez told police he let Rodriguez-Garcia, one of his employees, borrow the van because he was moving. Marquez said he knew the victim and had talked to Ramos on the phone on September 27 and saw him briefly that morning as Marquez was leaving work. Marquez said Ramos apparently wanted to talk to him but he didn’t really know what it was about.

Marquez later told police Ramos worked for him until about a month-and-a-half earlier and Marquez still owed him about $1,000 for past work. He also admitted he owed money to other employees while he was waiting to be paid by contractors.

The criminal complaint says Ramos’s cell phone records showed the last time he used the phone was to send a text message at 12:27 P.M. on September 27, shortly before he entered Marquez’s business. Two hours later, videos showed Marquez and Burgos-Mojica leaving the shop in a tow truck -- and though videos don’t show Ramos leaving the business, the cell phone records showed his phone was on the move at about the same time.

The criminal complaint against Rodriguez-Garcia said when police were questioning him, he said he was “afraid that Pedro or others would find out that he was talking to the police and that something could happen to him or his family.”

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