MICANOPY, Fla. – A murder suspect who was the subject of a manhunt by several law enforcement agencies in the Micanopy area was captured with the help of a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office K-9, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
On Monday, the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office received a report that Delia Cruz, 32, was missing. Her boyfriend told deputies she had walked away from home and never returned.
The following day, investigators received a tip that Cruz's boyfriend, Ricardo Fuentes, 35, had confessed to murdering Cruz and burying her body. The caller told investigators Fuentes was at an Alachua County convenience store, and law enforcement moved in to arrest him.
When they arrived at the Chevron station near I-75, Fuentes had already left the business, investigators said. Deputies then began a K-9 track from that location.
Deputies released a surveillance photo of a man, who originally they said was considered a homicide suspect by the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office.
As the search continued in Alachua County, investigators found the body of a female that matched the description of Cruz in a shallow grave.
Later in the day, a resident on Southeast 26th Street in Micanopy went to check on his neighbor's home after hearing about the case. Inside, he saw what he believed to be the suspect's feet sticking out of a closet, investigators said.
He ran outside, notified investigators and house-to-house searches in the area continued throughout the night.
Just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, search team members found a vacant home on Southwest 1st Avenue in Micanopy. While checking that home, JSO K-9 "Huk" and his partner found Fuentes hiding in a bathroom. JSO posted a photo showing Huk and his partner on Twitter.
Shout-out to #JSO K9 Ofcr Cheth Plaugher and K9 "Huk" for capturing @SuwanneeSheriff murder suspect, Ricardo Fuentes in Alachua County. This morning, while checking a vacant house, #JSO K9 “Huk”, and Ofcr Plaugher located the suspect in a bathroom. Great job! #workingtogether pic.twitter.com/hDFrKw3qiB— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) May 30, 2018
Fuentes was taken into custody and booked into the Alachua County Jail for crimes related to the two residents deputies say he burglarized while on the run. He will eventually return to Suwannee County, where he's charged with murder.
Fuentes is a register sex offender on probation for a sexual battery he committed in 2004 in Marion County. He was also released from prison in December 2017 after serving ten years for attempted murder.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office later posted online, thanking everyone for "tips, security and support all night."