Houston police believe two cousins used a gay dating app to rob and murder their victims.
Police have recovered the body of one man, Glenser Soliman, 45, who was found on February 25. The second victim, An Vinh Nguyen, a 26-year-old University of Houston student vanished on March 31. His car was recovered several days later.
Police have charged Brandon Lyons, 18, with the capital murder of Soliman. His cousin, Jerrett Jamal Allen, 26, has been charged in his absence with credit and debit card fraud.
Officers believe Allen used Nguyen’s credit card in El Paso, Texas in early to mid-April.
Harris County lead homicide investigator Mike Ritchie told a news conference on Monday: ‘On February 25 I was assigned a case where a body was recovered which was later identified as our first complainant Glenser Soliman . He was reported missing by his family on February 18. Several days later after he was reported missing we found his vehicle.
‘Through our investigation, and through a few weeks we were able to develop a suspect who was identified as Brandon Lyons, who was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
‘Through our investigation and several months of work, along with the DA’s office, we were able to file a capital murder charge on Brandon Lyons for the death of Glenser Soliman.
‘During our investigation of this case, in early April, I was made aware of another missing male by the name of An Vinh Nguyen. Through our investigation and through things that we have discovered we realized that these cases were most likely linked.
‘By investigating certain aspects of the case, where he was last seen, we were also able to develop a suspect Jerrett Allen. Jerrett Allen was today charged with credit and debit card abuse and through our investigation we were able to link Brandon Lyons and Jerrett Allen together.
‘They are cousins and they were living together at the time that both men disappeared.
‘So again, Jerrett Allen, his whereabouts are unknown. His last known location was in El Paso, Texas in early to mid-April. Since then we don’t know where he is.’
Ritchie said An Vinh Nguyen was reported missing by his family on April 1. He was last seen on March 31 in the Spring area. His car was recovered on April 6.
He confirmed neither of the victims knew each other, but but used gay social media chat sites.
Detectives have not determined a motive for either crime and have not ruled out whether they were targeted due to their sexuality.
He said they could possibly be dealing with serial killers.
According to the FBI, serial killers will have murdered at least three people with a ‘cooling down’ period between each crime.
The two suspects may have been using gay chat sites to target their victims, both of whom were Asian males.
Officers have not recovered An Vinh Nguyen’s body although he is presumed dead. He was due to attend a job interview in Florida days after he went missing.
Ritchie warned people using online hookup sites or apps to exercise caution when meeting strangers as they ‘may not want to meet up for the same reason as you’.
He said bring a friend along, meet in public and never arrange to meet someone in either your or their home.