Saturday, 7/12/2019 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Suspect apprehended in Santiago murder case

Suspect apprehended in Santiago murder case

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

When Harker Heights police responded to a medical call in the 1400 block of Hopi Trail last July, 18-year-old Angelica Nicole Santiago was found fatally wounded by two gun-shot wounds. With evidence collected at the scene, “early assertions” were that the gun-shot wounds Santiago inevitably died from were self-inflicted. However, according to a recent press release by the Harker Heights police department Sgt. Steve Miller, there is now probable cause to believe a murder had occurred; this comes after a subsequent review and further investigation by the Bell County District Attorney’s Office.

Matthew Stoddard

Matthew Stoddard

22-year-old Matthew Stoddard surrendered to Harker Heights police on March 9, 2017 after a warrant for his arrest had been issued. Stoddard was Santiago’s then-boyfriend, and the couple lived at the duplex together, along with their infant son. According to the affidavit, Stoddard told police that he had been in the bathroom with Santiago when she grabbed a gun and shot herself, a fate that many of Santiago’s family and friends refused to believe.

“It’s hard to explain the type of person Angelica was to anyone who hasn’t met her,” says child-hood friend Tiffany Arenas. “But once you did, you’d realize she was unforgettable. Once the reports started saying she had killed herself, I knew there was no way. We’re talking about a girl who wouldn’t get in the car if someone had been drinking. I know how much she loved Matt, we never could have anticipated something like this happening—but I think a lot of people had their suspicions, including me.” Arenas goes on to say that with the arrest of Stoddard, it’s still bittersweet. “She deserves justice, and I’m glad that process is finally happening. But I still don’t get to hang out with my friend, or talk to her. All I can hope is that Angelica’s soul finds peace, and we’ll wait for the trail to see how much justice is truly served.”

“She was the sweetest person,” said Haley Connolly, another close friend of Santiago. “I couldn’t believe it was suicide when I was first told she died. She worked so hard for her and her son, there was just no way she would kill herself. I didn’t want to point fingers, but I think a lot of us still knew. Even at her funeral, there wasn’t a single person you could convince that Angelica had taken her own life. As time went on and more clues came out pointing to him, it only confirmed what many of her friends and family thought all along. I pray that now, finally, she will find peace. For that, I feel okay.”

Stoddard was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke and his bond has been set at $1,000,000. He is currently being transferred to the Bell County Jail. The investigation is still on-going.

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