'Someone in the way': Pastor arrested for hiring hit men to murder his wife - and recruited them from within his own church
A murder-for-hire plot is unravelling in a small south Texas town after a pastor and one of his parishioners have been arrested for the murder of his wife this weekend.
Pastor Julio Cesar Perez is suspected of recruiting men from within his own community church to gun down his wife.
Sonia Perez was found dead in her van with several gunshot wounds on Thursday night. She had been shot twice - once in the side and once in the head. There were reportedly signs of a struggle in the car.
Authorities said in court documents released Monday that Perex said that 'someone was in his way,' and allegedly paid the men $1,300 to kill his wife.
Pastor Perez, 40, and 20-year-old Gabriel Apolinar Escalante were arrested on Saturday night following the discovery of her body.
Earlier today police also arrested Daniel Lopez, 37, who is suspected to be the 'trigger man' in the slaying. He will be charged with capital murder.
Sheriff Omar Lucio said Mr Perez hired the two hit men to kill his wife, according to ValleyCentral.com.
‘(Perez) made contact through a mutual friend at his church and they contacted people,’ Lucio told the Brownsville Herald.
Capital murder charges have been filed against both men, according to Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio. Perez and Escalanate were arraigned Sunday and are being held without bond.
Lucio would not indicate which of the two men is accused of firing the fatal shots.
Julio Cesar Perez leads the Ministerios Manantial de Vida near San Benito, Texas, which sits 20 miles northwest of the city of Brownsville, Texas.
Sonia Perez, who was 39 at the time of her death, was a third-grade teacher in Rio Hondo, Texas.