At 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 20, police in the border town of McAllen, Texas discovered the body of 42-year-old rancher Gabriel Quintanilla in an open field near the intersection of McColl and Whalen roads. Quintanilla had suffered “severe blunt force trauma to his head,” according to a police statement. He apparently had been beaten and left to die.
The case was turned over to police in neighboring Pharr, where the assault was suspected to have occurred. By Sunday, Pharr police had tracked down and arrested brothers Alejandro and Christian Trevino, as well as Juan Eduardo Melendez, a friend—all of them 18 years old.
It was then that the brothers’ nine-year-old sister came forward to say that Quintanilla, her father —and the boys’ stepfather— had touched her inappropriately at an RV park.
“When brothers Alejandro and Christian Trevino found out, they became enraged and confronted Gabriel Quintanilla at the residence,” according to a statement by the Pharr Police Department. “A physical fight ensued between the three and the victim Quintanilla left the location on foot.”
According to police, Christian chased his stepfather down the road to an apartment complex, where another assault occurred involving Alejandro and now Melendez, who was driving the red Dodge Charger police had been looking for in the hours leading up to his arrest.
After the second assault, the three boys left the scene, changed vehicles, and returned in a white Ford F-150 to find Quintanilla walking along Veterans Road, injured. The boys beat him again, this time using brass knuckles, resulting in blunt force trauma to the man’s head.
The boys then placed Quintanilla in the bed of the truck and drove to a field where they dumped him. Police believe the man may still have been alive at the time the boys left him there.
All three boys are now sitting in a Hidalgo County jail. Alejandro Trevino is charged with aggravated assault against a family member and engaging in organized criminal activity. His brother Christian is charged with the same along with capital murder, as is their friend Melendez.
A petition on Change.org calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to release the boys has already received over 46,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.