When opportunistic thieves spotted an SUV that had a U-Haul attached to it, they were hoping the contents would be a valuable steal. What they ultimately discovered was darker than anything they expected…
The Emotional Road Trip
One couple were making their way across country to complete an unfortunate mission, but their journey was about to take a surprising turn. After hours on the road, the young couple decided to turn in for the night at a local hotel.
Resting Up For A Fresh Start
The couple parked their black SUV and U-Haul trailer outside of Albuquerque’s Residence Inn hotel, they thought little about the safety of their vehicle. They were exhausted after a long day on the roads, they headed to bed, ready to get an early start in the morning. But upon waking up they would make an unfortunate discovery.
Missing In Action
Little did the unsuspecting couple know that as they lay in their hotel room, a robbery was about to take place. Lurking in the surrounding darkness, a group of thieves plotted an ambitious steal.
Woke Up To A Nightmare
In the early hours of morning light, the couple arose on September 11, 2017 and soon discovered that their SUV and trailer had vanished. The pair was visibly shaken. The contents of the truck meant more than anyone could have possibly known.
Making A Long Trip
They couple were making their way from Oklahoma to Kirtland, New Mexico. But this was no ordinary trip or pleasurable getaway, the couple were delivering something of great importance.
A Common Problem
Unfortunately, U-Haul thefts are on the rise, and it has become quite common for thieves to assume that a U-Haul is brimming with valuables that can be resold at a hefty price. U-Hauls in hotel parking lots are also prime targets which are especially vulnerable to theft.
Not As It Seemed
When it comes down to this particular case things are very far from the norm, and the thieves would soon find this out for themselves…
The couple woke up on that September morning at 8:30 a.m. and were very eager to check out and get back out onto the road. That is when they saw that their SUV and U-Haul were gone.
After getting to grips with the situation, the pair immediately called the police and reported their missing vehicle and trailer. Tanner Tixier, who was one of the first officers on the scene, was initially surprised by how emotional the couple were. Something was amiss.
All Shook Up
When the local officers heard the details of what was in the trailer, they understood the panic and anxiety of the couple. This certainly was no ordinary case. According to the distraught couple, those burglars were driving around with a heavy load that was far from what they expected.
Shocked Many People
“This one really kind of shocked a lot of people up,” said Officer Tixier. Most policemen would have been shocked by the macabre nature of the case, but, these cops knew had a solemn duty to solve this crime quickly. A team of policemen was immediately assembled. They were determined to get the U-Haul back in the hands of its troubled owners.
To the couple’s great relief, the U-Haul was discovered in mere hours. The vehicle had been abandoned only a few blocks from the site of the crime. It seemed that all was in tact and the contents had not been tampered with. The police came to the conclusion that the criminals decided to abandon the SUV once they discovered what was inside.
Quite A Normal Sight
Anxious to discover the riches they had come upon, the thieves opened the U-Haul doors. Shocked by the dark contents, the U-Haul was hastily abandoned in a residential neighborhood. A local Albuquerque resident named Michael Ayers lives right across the street from where the stolen SUV and U-Haul trailer had been unceremoniously dumped. The shocked resident commented on the situation that rocked the town.
A Curious Discovery
At first, Ayers thought the U-Haul was an ordinary sight, “I saw the U-Haul truck there earlier this morning and didn’t think anything of it,” he said. Seeing a U-Haul parked in a neighborhood won’t exactly raise suspicion amongst onlooking neighbors. He assumed that someone was moving out or had a delivery. He was so very wrong.
The staff at the hotel were eager to help with the police investigation. They recalled seeing a red pickup truck at the scene of the crime in the early hours of the morning. The cops had heard of this pickup truck before, apparently, it had recently been reported stolen.
The puzzle pieces were slowly coming together. The officers with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office located the vehicle and were soon engaged in a high-speed chase, tailing the vehicle along the I-25 highway. It was a lengthy chase but the cops persevered. This criminal was determined to get away.
“BCSO deputies were involved in a pursuit with a stolen red Chevy pickup truck that tried to hit a deputy,” Officer Tixier later confirmed in a media interview. The common crook in the red truck proved that he couldn’t outrun or outsmart the police. He quickly found himself cornered and surrendered to the authorities.
The police brought the chase to an end and had successfully arrested all three of their suspects: Daniel Gonzales, Anthony Serna, and Jeremy Soliz. It looks like they were going to spend some time behind bars. But what exactly had they discovered in the truck?
Gonzales and Soliz already had warrants out for their arrest for past crimes. Soliz was going away for an additional few years for trying to flee from the police in a stolen truck.
Not So Smart
Every crime involving some kind of break in should be carried out with the attempt to conceal their identifying fingerprints. These multiple time offenders were not quite cunning enough to wear gloves. Their fingerprints were left all over the U-Haul and SUV.
The New Mexico police are no fools. They knew immediately knew that these three cooks were guilty of stealing the U-Haul, but they wanted to make sure that they had collected enough evidence to ensure they would spend deserved time behind bars. They waited in anticipation for the DNA evidence to come through.
All three men have been in custody before, but this meant very little to Serna and Soliz. They continued committing crimes despite their past run ins with the authorities. At the time of the theft, Serna and Soliz were awaiting trial whilst on bail for a different crime. Soliz also had been arrested in the past for being in possession of substances with intent to sell.
Multiple Time Offenders
Though the men had a long history with crime, the common thieves were surprisingly careless. The U-Haul theft was comically carried out riddled with bumbling mistakes. The botched job would leave them behind bars for years to come.
In Deep Trouble
Out of the three criminals, Gonzales was perhaps in the deepest trouble. The young man pleaded guilty to receiving and transferring a stolen car. At the time of theft, he already had a warrant and a court order to take mandated counseling. He and Soliz were scheduled to appear in court the day after their arrest, but Serna would have to wait a week.
To the couple’s relief, the case was wrapped up within two days. Just 48 hours after stealing the SUV and U-Haul and the thieves were already charged and being sent to prison. Who was responsible for this quick arrest? It was Serna. In the hopes that he’d get leniency, he called the police and told them where the trailer was. He also said that he wanted to report the bizarre findings immediately, but that the guys stopped him from doing so.
The Moment Of Truth
The thieves were hoping to discover a carload of stolen furniture, televisions and other valuables. These items can mean big money for the common crook who is able to resell the items. What they found would leave them shaken and shocked.
Inside The Trailer
When these three thieves opened up that U-Haul, what they found inside was a casket. In the casket were the remains of the young woman’s father. They were rightfully disturbed by the coffin and soon decided to abandon the SUV and U-Haul.
Crime In Vain
The crime had been a pathetic attempt at a rewarding heist. The three men found themselves on the local wanted list for stealing a truck and parking it a few blocks away.
Why Was It There?
The young woman was transferring her father’s corpse, ultimately hoping to lay him to rest in Kirtland, New Mexico. Once locals uncovered the van’s contents, it became clear why the woman was so emotional. A theft of this nature was more than a crime, it was an unexpected and terrible incident of disrespect to her deceased father.
What A Relief
The condition of the body had to weigh heavy on the couple’s mind. The couple prayed the body had survived the traumatic two days. In New Mexico, the sun burns bright and the woman was devastated at the thought of having her father’s body returned to her in a dire and decomposing state.
Checking On The Body
Upon locating the stolen U-Haul and SUV, the authorities searched the casket’s contents and were able to assure the woman that the body remained in good condition. That said, the police didn’t let the couple leave upon finding their father’s remains. What would happen to the decomposing body?
Looking For Clues
The situation was complicated by the police’s need to use the body as a piece of evidence in the case. The body would have to be analyzed and dusted for fingerprints.
Back On Track
Once the evidence had been collected and the crooks were successfully put behind bars, the young couple was given back their U-Haul and SUV. It seems the woman’s father got to have one more adventure before he was laid to rest.
Job Well Done
In the end, everyone got what they truly deserved. The couple got their SUV and U-Haul back and were able to complete their mission, the police solved the case and were able to make the state of New Mexico just a little safer. The criminals were held accountable. Officer Tixier closed the case with this statement, “For the family, absolutely, that’s our biggest relief.”