Message found on suicide victim's body leads to another
The tape in the pocket of a man found hanging from a tree leads police to his girlfriend's body.
By BEN MONTGOMERY
Published April 29, 2007
TAMPA - Angel T. Jimenez bought a length of nylon rope from Home Depot, climbed high into an oak tree by the Hillsborough River and ended his life with his secret in his pocket.
Police found him hanging in a patch of woods on the edge of Rowlett Park on Saturday at 8:37 a.m. He was 44. He wore a white T-shirt and dark pants. His toes were 11 feet from the ground.
In his pocket police found a receipt for the rope, his Florida driver's license and a minicassette tape he evidently made in his final moments.
Tampa police Maj. George McNamara knew then that it wasn't the end of the story.
"A gut feeling, " he said.
Detectives translated the tape at police headquarters and immediately called McNamara, who was interviewing Jimenez's family at the time.
They said the dead man's comments on the tape suggested he had harmed his girlfriend.
Jimenez's family members said they last saw him Friday night, McNamara said. He appeared despondent and left the home on foot. But no one had checked his bedroom until McNamara received the call.
The focus of the investigation shifted abruptly to a beige duplex at 10118 N 14th St. that Jimenez shared with 27-year-old Cuadalupe Cajiga.
McNamara broke a window, climbed inside and found Cajiga dead on her bed from what he would describe only as upper body trauma. There was no blood.
Crime scene technicians covered the victim with a red tarp and wheeled her out. A woman who police said was a relative of Cajiga's screamed, cried and collapsed into the arms of a friend.
The two had lived in the apartment a few blocks north of Busch Boulevard for less than a month, neighbors said. No one suspected anything was wrong. No shouts in the night, no police lights out front.
"Didn't seem like they had any problems, " said Nichol Harris. "They bought a Polar Cup from the ice cream truck and they seemed happy."
But Jimenez was facing trial on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and stalking. Those stemmed from a Jan. 28 arrest in southeast Seminole Heights. The victim in that case could not be reached, but an acquaintance of hers, Tina Estorino, said the woman feared for her safety.
"He was constantly threatening her, " said Estorino, who lives down the street from a rental home on W South Avenue that Jimenez had been sharing with the woman. "He would want to know where she was every single minute."
According to state records, Jimenez, who worked recently for a tree service, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to deliver heroin in 1998 and was sentenced to a year of probation. He was also charged with false imprisonment and aggravated assault with a weapon in 2004, but those charges were dropped.
Jimenez's family gathered outside the duplex on N 14th Street. No one would talk to reporters.
"There's a lot of questions: Why? What happened?" McNamara said. "We've still got a lot of work to do."
At Rowlett Park, long after Jimenez's body had been lowered and the curious had dispersed, Tim and Cathy Stull pulled off the road.
They said they saw the man hanging on their way to work. They came back to try to learn what had happened.
"It hasn't left my mind, " said Cathy. "Just seeing him those five or six seconds, it was just ..."
"I can't stop thinking about his feet."
Ben Montgomery can be reached at email@example.com or 813 661-2443.