EL PASO , Texas (Tribune News Service) — Two Fort Bliss soldiers were arrested Wednesday after being accused of killing a 16-year-old boy over a drug theft, then bragging about it, court documents show.
The boy's body was found Sunday in the Montana Vista area.
Tyler Shane Hall, 20, and Eric Duvall, 25, were arrested and charged with murder in the death of Michael Anthony Tapia, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office officials said.
The body of Tapia was found at about 5 p.m. Sunday near Flager Street and Tangerine Avenue in Montana Vista two weeks after he was allegedly killed.
According to court documents, a man reported to the Sheriff’s Office that he found a body lying on ground in the 13800 block of Frankie Lane. Deputies arrived and found that the victim had suffered trauma to his head.
Court documents state that Tapia was killed Jan. 26 in a drug-related incident.
An autopsy was performed on the body and it was determined that Tapia suffered a single gunshot wound to the back of his neck.
Deputies found “two spent .223 caliber casings on the ground near the victim’s body,” according to court documents.
Tapia’s mother, Johanna Ochoterena, told deputies that Tapia had been threatened last year by a man named “Duvee” over a drug deal, according to the court documents. She told investigators that the man was a soldier in the U.S. Army.
Ochoterena also gave deputies a text message she had sent to “Duvee” in October, according to the documents. The documents do not state what the text message said. Deputies were able to identify “Duvee” as Duvall.
A witness, who is not identified, told deputies that Hall had an unknown amount of drugs stolen from him. The witness said that Hall believed Tapia had stolen the drugs, according to court documents.
The witness said that Duvall and Hall confronted Tapia on Jan. 16 at a home in the 11600 block of Sunset Rose Drive, which is about seven miles from where Tapia’s body was found. They then left with Tapia for about an hour and a half, the documents state.
Hall and Duvall returned to the home without Tapia. The witness told deputies that “Hall was seen laughing and stated that he killed the victim,” court documents state. The witness said that Hall allegedly used an "AR rifle" and shot the victim in the head twice.
Duvall also allegedly told everyone at the house not to talk to anyone about the shooting.
According to another unnamed witness, Tapia told Hall while at the house that he would pay him back for the drugs, but Hall allegedly said, “We’ll fix this right now.”
The witness said Hall, Duvall and Tapia then left the house. The two suspects returned to the house and Duvall allegedly said, “We killed him,” according to court documents.
Duvall allegedly told the witness that Hall had shot Tapia.
According to court documents, Hall later allegedly said, “I shot him in the head. I did a double tap on his head.”
The witness told deputies that Duvall had shot a man last year with a handgun, according to court documents. Deputies said in the documents that a police report on that shooting was filed, but did not name Duvall as a suspect. The victim in that case declined to press charges and the case was closed.
Hall and Duvall are active duty soldiers in the 1st Armored Division stationed at Fort Bliss, officials said. Hall is a private, while Duvall is a sergeant.
According to court documents, Duvall has been in the U.S. Army for about five years, while Hall has been in the Army for about a year and a half.
Fort Bliss officials declined to comment on the arrests.
"Fort Bliss officials are cooperating with El Paso authorities who have jurisdiction in this case," officials said. "Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot comment further about it."
Hall also was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance more than four grams and less than 200 grams, according to court records. Hall was booked into El Paso County Jail on a bond totaling $1,025,000.
Duvall was booked into El Paso County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Ochoterena wrote several messages on Facebook about her son’s death and the suspects.
“To the murderers that took my sons life, I pray mercy on you now,” Ochoterena posted on Facebook. “God is a good God. My son is with our Lord now, and I know he is ok and home. Justice will be served!”
In another post, she states that her son can now rest in peace knowing that the suspects had been arrested.
“Thank you father God!!!!!!!! I trusted you to expose the savages that took my baby's life and you are faithful Lord you are faithful,” Ochoterena posted. “You told me 3 days and 3 days it was. You are a miraculous God!!!!! Baby, we got them. Now you can be in peace at home watching down on us and your sisters. Doesn't bring you back but JUSTICE IS SERVED!!!!!! Thank you Jesus!! I love you baby and you're in my heart till we meet again.”
Several attempts to reach Ochoterena were unsuccessful.
Tapia was a student at Jefferson High School more than three years ago and attended Delta Academy about two years ago, El Paso Independent School District officials said.
He also attended Americas High School as a ninth-grader from July to October 2014, but left more than a year ago, Socorro independent School District officials said.
Funeral services for Tapia are from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at Sunset Funeral Home, 750 North Carolina Drive, Ochoterena said on Facebook.
©2016 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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