Three men charged for the mutilation and murder of gay man Bernardo Pantaleon

A closeup photo of a 'police line do not cross' label

Three men have been charged with first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the death of a gay man.

The body of 30-year-old Bernardo Pantaleon was discovered in a park in Phoenix, Arizona on 26 November.

Pantaleon had been shot multiple times before his body was mutilated with a knife, per court documents seen by local CBS affiliate Arizona’s Family.

Police tape
Three men have been arrested in connection with the murder of Bernardo Pantaleon. (Getty Images)

Pantaleon’s family told the news station that his body had been so badly beaten and tortured that investigating officers asked them not to see the corpse. Loved ones believe that Pantaleon was the victim of a targeted hate crime because he was gay.

Days after Pantaleon’s body was discovered, some of his relatives were sent photos that reportedly showed his mutilated body.

In one photo, a man could be seen holding his middle finger up to the camera. At least one of these photos was also posted to Instagram.

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With these traumatic photos, detectives were able to identify the suspected shooter and uncover evidence that the murder had been premeditated.

Police found messages between the suspects discussing the murder.

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A police officer wearing a vest stood by a police car.
Police were able to find the suspects through their social media activity. (Getty)

A number of social media posts were also uncovered in which derogatory comments were made about Pantaleon’s sexuality and about how homosexuality wasn’t allowed in certain parts of Phoenix.

After further investigation, three men were arrested on Sunday (3 December) in connection with the murder.

The three suspects have been identified as Jose Rodriguez, 20, Leonardo Santiago, 21, and Manual Carrasco-Calderon, 21.

All three have reportedly confessed to their involvement in Pantaleon’s murder, and each face a charge of first-degree premeditated murder.

It is understood that Santiago, the alleged shooter, and Carrasco-Calderon also face a felony charge of crimes against the dead.

The three men are being held on bonds ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.

Although the state of Arizona’s hate crime law doesn’t allow for a separate hate crime charge, the suspects’ sentences could be increased significantly if a judge or jury determines that the crime was a hate crime motivated by Pantaleon’s sexual orientation.

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