Jose Amaya Guardado’s body was found buried in the woods not far from a Job Corps facility in Homestead, Florida. Now, four people have been arrested in connection with his murder and a fifth suspect is expected to be arrested soon, Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Kaheem Arbelo, 20, Jonathan Lucas, 18, Christian Colon, 19, and Desiray Strickland, 18, have all been accused of hacking the 17-year-old to death with a machete outside of Homestead Job Corps, a live-in school and vocational training program for at-risk youth, which is run by the federal government. Guardado and Arbelo were roommates, NBC Miami reported.
Investigators said they believe Guardado was killed over a debt he owed to Arbelo, who is a suspected drug dealer at the school, Miami Herald reported. According to an arrest report obtained by the newspaper, the group had planned the murder about two weeks in advance, going so far as to dig his grave and hide a machete in the bushes a few days before the June 28 murder. Guarado’s brother found his body while he was out searching for him.
After the teens allegedly lured Guardado into the woods, they began hacking at him with the machete. He suffered severe injuries and one of the students reportedly ordered him to lie in his own grave, even though he was still alive.
“The victim made one last attempt to fight off the attackers,” Miami-Dade Detective Juan Segovia wrote in Strickland’s arrest report, “at which time, (Arbelo) struck the victim with the machete several more times until the victim’s face caved in.”
The group then allegedly cleaned up the crime scene, buried Guardado’s body and hid the shovel and machete. Strickland and Arbelo, the accused ringleader, reportedly stayed behind to have sex, NY Daily News reported.
The four suspects are currently being held in Miami-Dade jails on second-degree murder charges, but they could be indicted for first-degree murder and be eligible for the death penalty.