Police Allege Murder of Celestino Rodriguez Began as a Robbery
A wave of new developments in the disappearance of 79-year-old Celestino Rodriguez of Slaton has shed new light on what led to his murder. So far, seven people have been arrested and charged for their involvement in the disappearance and murder of Celestino.
According to all available information, it’s believed that 33-year-old Brett Garza, 53-year-old David Hampton, and 32-year-old Heather Casias were the ones who first devised a plan to steal Celestino’s money and his car.
August 3rd - Casias somehow lured Celestino to a remote location in Hale County where Garza and Hampton allegedly robbed him, beat him to death, and then left his body in a field.
All three then left the scene with Celestino’s wallet and his vehicle. Both Garza and Hampton used Celestino’s debit and credit cards at various banks in Lubbock.
Celestino was reported missing August 3rd by his daughter. When Casias was questioned by police about Celestino’s disappearance, she became worried they might find his body and told Garza it needed to be moved.
Garza enlisted the help of 26-year-old James Anderson and 39-year-old Freddie Salinas to move Celestino’s body to a different location near Abernathy.
In the meantime, Hampton gave Celestino’s vehicle to 39-year-old Toby Daughtry and 33-year-old Amanada Blagburn and told them to dispose of it.
The pair drove the car as far as Milam County, roughly six hours southeast of Lubbock. Police say they wiped the car for prints and left it in a wooded area where authorities found it on August 7th, four days after Celestino’s disappearance.
August 8th - Daughtry was question by Milam County law enforcement after being spotted on the side of a highway. He gave them the location of the stolen vehicle and details of what he knew about Celestino's disappearance.
He told police that Hampton had told him he stole the truck from an old man, that he beat him up and then left him in a field. On August 9th, Garza and Hampton were officially named persons of interest in the case.
August 10th - Felony arrest warrants for Credit/Debit Card Abuse of an Elderly Individual were issued for both men when investigators discovered they had been fraudulently suing Celestino's cards.
August 14th - Daughtry and Blagburn were both arrested in Lubbock and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. Garza was also arrested in Lubbock later that day. The following day, Hampton turned himself into police headquarters in Abilene.
August 16th - Garza agreed to lead investigators to the spot where he, James Anderson and Freddie Salinas had moved Celestino's body after the murder. Later that day, authorities were able to confirm that the body was Celestino's.
August 17th - Three felony arrest warrants were issued for the murder of Celestino; Brett Garza, David Hampton, and Heather Casias.
August 19th - Police locate and arrest Casias at the Red Roof Inn at about 5:30 p.m. Investigators also release two additional arrest warrants of Tampering with Evidence for James Anderson and Freddie Salinas. Anderson was already in custody in Hale County on an unrelated charge and Salinas was arrested later that day in Abernathy.