A man suspected in a 2012 killing has turned himself in within a month of the airing of a true-crime episode on his case.
Austin, Texas police have announced that Hector Hugo Ramirez-Lopez, 33, has surrendered to Mexican authorities. He stands accused of stabbing 22-year-old Randall Wells to death more than nine years ago.
Texas authorities said an officer was responding to a call at an apartment building on April 28, 2012 when he heard a “loud crash and looked over to find that a vehicle had crashed into the southwest parking lot of this complex, unrelated to his call”.
Mr Wells was identified as the driver of the vehicle and “was found to have suffered what appeared to be a knife wound and had lost consciousness”.
Emergency personnel rushed Mr Wells to a hospital where he died, police said. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be a stab wound to the chest and the case was categorised as a homicide, with Mr Ramirez-Lopez identified as the suspect.
“A warrant was issued for Lopez charging him with murder but it was believed that Lopez had fled the country and was possibly in his native country Mexico,” Austin police said in a press release.
Law enforcement noted that Mr Ramirez-Lopez was featured on a true-crime TV show less than a month before he turned himself in.
“On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, this case premiered on In Pursuit with John Walsh: Predator Next Door,” police said. “The internationally televised broadcast profiles crime stories as told by witnesses and law enforcement officials in a collaborative effort to pursue and apprehend wanted fugitives.”
They added that Mr Ramirez-Lopez surrendered to authorities on 22 November. “Lopez self-surrendered to authorities in Mexico,” Austin police said. “He was subsequently extradited back to the United States and is currently being held at the Travis County Jail.”
It remains unclear if Mr Ramirez-Lopez saw the programme. The episode description for In Pursuit states that Mr Wells “may have whistled at a female prompting someone to throw something at his vehicle. A confrontation between a group of Hispanic males and Randall ensued. It was during this confrontation that Randall was stabbed”.
A detective investigating Mr Wells’ death then connected a detail shared by a witness to an earlier sexual assault, Law and Crime reported.
“One key piece to the investigation the second witness was able to offer was not only a description of the [suspect’s] vehicle – but he spoke about a distinct sticker on the back of the vehicle, a Freemason’s decal on the back left window,” the episode description said. “When the detective pulled up photos from the assault incident, the car was an exact match – right down to the sticker. It was this report that led them directly to the main suspect, Hector Hugo Ramirez-Lopez.”
While Mr Ramirez-Lopez was taken into custody in connection to the assault, there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him for it.
Law enforcement believes that Mr Ramirez-Lopez killed Mr Wells just two weeks later.
Jail records reveal that Mr Ramirez-Lopez is being held on a $250,000 bond on three felony charges.
The Independent has reached out to the Austin police department for comment.
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