Two arrested in murder of man found dead on Bangerter Highway

Posted at 10:04 AM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 20:01:10-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Two men face homicide charges after being arrested in connection to a man found murdered last month on Bangerter Highway.

The body of Cesar Adan Martinez was found near 8000 South on February 26. An investigation following the discovery showed Martinez had multiple stab wounds, as well as injuries that led officials to say he had been thrown out of a vehicle traveling at high speeds.

Following the discovery, West Jordan police asked the public's help in finding Martinez's vehicle, which was not at the scene, but later located in Salt Lake City with police saying "a large amount of blood was found on the interior and exterior."

Mario Alberto Carreto-Morales, 24, and Ray Jaimes Cortez, 30, have both been arrested and face multiple charges, including criminal homicide by assault, obstruction of justice and aggravated robbery.

"Learned that Mr. Morales and Mr. Cortez were the last two people with the victim," said Ofc. Samuel Winkler with the West Jordan Police Department.

According to the probable cause affidavit, a friend said another person answered Martinez's phone when he called the night before the body was found. The friend was told Martinez was "was at an apartment complex in West Valley City, Utah, and may need a ride because he had been drinking."

Later in the night, Martinez answered his phone and told his friend that he was back at his vehicle. Just before 2 a.m., Martinez called his friend and told him he was on his way to a relative's house before saying "watch out" in Spanish and hanging up.

Police say Carreto-Morales and Cortez had asked Martinez for a ride, and the two later took him to an apartment where "they hung out for a while." Before leaving the apartment, the suspects allegedly made a plan to rob Martinez, but instead, the group got into Martinez's Dodge Dakota and left the area.

While in the truck, an argument began, which ended with one of the suspects allegedly stabbing Martinez three times before he was thrown out of the vehicle.

"It's got to be comforting to any family knowing that the killer of a family member has been taken off the street," said Ofc. Winkler

"Mr. Martinez opened the door and again, we're not sure whether his attempt was to get away or what was going on, Mr. Martinez opened the door and Mr. Morales pushed him out of the moving vehicle onto Bangerter highway where he was left to die," Ofc. Winkler said.

For police, they are hoping the arrests will help bring some closure for the family.

Both Carreto-Morales and Cortez were taken into custody Tuesday, with Cortez admitting that both men were with Martinez the night before his body was found. However, Cortez claims Carreto-Morales was the one who stabbed Martinez and threw him out of the truck, which Carreto-Morales denied to police.

Cortez also told police that Carreto-Morales was the one who stole Martinez's truck.