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A spurned boyfriend lured a teenage love rival to his death using an elaborate ruse on Facebook, police in Florida claim.
Murder Suspect: Israel Nieves
Victim: Jason Rodriguez
Israel Nieves set up a fake profile for a woman called Ty-Ann and flirted with Jason Rodriguez for weeks online before inviting him to ‘her’ house.
But as Rodriguez, a 19-year-old bodybuilder, waited outside in his car, Nieves walked up to the window and calmly shot him in the face and neck, detectives say. Rodriguez died a week later in hospital.
Details of the case were revealed in records from the Orange County Court, Orlando, where Nieves, 19, faces a charge of first-degree murder with a firearm.
Police say that Nieves, who had recently broken up with a girl Rodriguez was dating, set up a fake Facebook profile in the name of Ty-Ann and used it to build a relationship with his victim using emails and online chat.
When Rodriguez pressed for a phone call and a face-to-face meeting, Nieves asked a female friend to play the role.
She invited Rodriguez to an address in Orlando that she told him was hers, and he drove there in his green Honda Accord car, records show.
But instead of a meeting with Ty-Ann, Rodriguez, a student at Valencia Community College, was confronted by Nieves.
Nieves chased and fired at a witness who saw the shooting, police say, but they escaped unharmed.
The witness gave detectives a detailed description of the shooter, who was wearing a bandana and a skullcap, a red long-sleeved sweatshirt, dark trousers and white shoes.
Detectives who later obtained a search warrant retrieved a black ski mask, black bandana, black gloves and a .32-calibre pistol from a bedroom at Nieves’s parents’ home.
Police discovered the relationship with ‘Ty-Ann’ through Rodriguez’s computer.
Although Nieves allegedly went to great lengths to cover his tracks, even creating a fake phone number to swap texts with his victim, computer experts found evidence on his iPod Touch, email and iTunes accounts.
Nieves denied his involvement when he was arrested, but later broke down under questioning and admitted he was only trying to scare his rival and gain evidence to show his ex-girlfriend that Rodriguez was cheating on her.
He claimed not to remember the night of the shooting, in February this year, because he had been drinking and ‘smoking embalming fluid’.
He told investigators: “I hope I never kill anybody. I don’t know. I just had a blackout. I don’t know what happened after that. I really don’t.”
“I never wanted him dead or anything. I don’t remember shooting the gun. I was drinking a lot.”
Nieves had a rocky and sometimes violent relationship with his ex-girlfriend, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
When they broke up, he emailed her a picture of himself clutching a gun. He is also alleged to have raped her and threatened her family.
He is being held without bond at the Orange County Jail, and is also charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl he met online.
Friends say that Rodriguez, a keen amateur bodybuilder who was training for a career in sports medicine, was popular.
He was “very loving, outgoing, strong young man who struck the hearts of all who came across his path”, one wrote in his obituary.