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LCPD: Man killed roommate, 67-year-old woman, used victim’s debit cards

Police arrested a man suspected in the January 2017 death of his 67-year-old roommate and charged him with an open count of murder.

Santino Rodriguez, 44, lived at 1727 Defiance Avenue with 67-year-old Karla Mann for several years, police said.

On Feb. 11, 2017, Rodriguez was transported to Memorial Medical Center, by ambulance. Police said investigators learned Rodriguez summoned the ambulance to the home and met with paramedics outside the residence. The following day, concerned neighbors found Karla Mann’s body inside her home, police said.

An autopsy of Mann’s body revealed blunt trauma to her head. The woman died as a result of skull fractures, investigators learned.

Inside the garage, investigators found a hatchet with what appeared to be blood on it. In Rodriguez’s bedroom, investigators allegedly found a pink T-shirt with what appeared to be blood stains.

Forensic investigators discovered the blood on the T-shirt and hatchet belonged to Mann. DNA recovered from the handle of the hatchet matched the DNA profile of Rodriguez, police said.

Through interviews with a relative of Mann, and in reviewing phone records, investigators learned a text message was sent from the victim’s cellphone on the evening of Feb. 12 indicated that she was “okay.” Detectives determined Mann was unable to send the message since medical investigators believe she likely died in late January. On Feb. 13, investigators allegedly recovered Mann’s cellphone with Rodriguez at the hospital.

Investigators say Rodriguez used Mann’s bank card eight times between Jan. 31 and Feb. 10. Investigators obtained surveillance video of Rodriguez using the bank card and learned he was not listed on Mann’s bank account. Investigator also recovered video surveillance from Jan. 31 of Rodriguez wearing the pink T-shirt, police said.

Rodriguez was arrested shortly before noon on Tuesday, Oct. 24. He was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is being held without bond.

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