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Murder Warrants Issued in Businessman's Death

Posted April 28, 2008

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— The Pender County Sheriff's Office has issued warrants charging two men with the slaying of a Wilmington man whose blood-stained truck was found at a Johnston County car dealership in January.

Martin Garza, 43, was last seen on Jan. 21 at a Wal-Mart in the Wallace area. His black GMC Denali was found a day later at Ron's Custom Cars near Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 210 near Smithfield.

The truck had a window broken out, and its interior was covered with blood.

A passerby found Garza's body on Feb. 16 off U.S. Highway 117 near Willard. Garza, a former Marine who owned a business in Wilmington, had been shot once in the head.

Two men seen in a surveillance video from the Smithfield car dealership have been charged in Garza's death.

Socrates Taboada Gomez, 26, and Wilmer Alexis-Cruz Alvarado, 23, have each been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery.

Gomez is from Mexico, and Alvarado is from Honduras. Authorities said they believe the men fled to Mexico shortly after the slaying.


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