An illegal immigrant with as many as six aliases, whom authorities are tentatively identifying as Jarol Antonio Santiago, has been arrested for the April 28th murder of his 33-year-old girlfriend Diana Mercado.
Mercado reportedly left for work early that morning and never came home. Worried, her family began looking for her and found her locked car containing her belongings in a parking lot near her workplace. They then contacted police who confirmed with her employer Dunkin Donuts, that Mercado never made it to work that morning.
The day after Mercado’s disappearance, police interviewed Santiago who reportedly gave them a false name and then split town. The next day, police found Mercado’s body in the woods behind her home wrapped in a tarp and covered with wood debris.
Police finally caught up with Santiago this past Wednesday in Orlando and brought him in for interrogation. That is when Santiago produced an incredible story.
According to police reports, Santiago claims the two began arguing over his wanting to drive to work with her that morning. Mercado apparently did not want him to come, but he insisted, so the two set out on the road. That is when Santiago claims Mercado produced a knife that she began stabbing herself with as she drove. According to Santiago, she then got out of the moving vehicle, fell down, and was then run over by the car.
Panicked, Santiago said he then collected the body, drove back to her home where he hid it in the woods, drove out to the parking lot where the car was found—throwing the knife out along the way, then rode a bicycle back to his house.
Autopsy reports indicate Mercado died of multiple stab wounds and also had several broken ribs, a broken pelvis and a fractured left collarbone.
Santiago has been charged with premeditated, first-degree murder and is being held in a Polk County jail without bail.