New details revealed in deadly hotel stabbing

Edinburg police say incident erupted over drug deal

EDINBURG — Police here said Monday that a drug deal gone awry led to the fatal stabbing of one man at the Texas Inn on June 3.

Jeffery Vargas Estremera

The victim was identified as Yadiel Morales, a 29-year-old South Carolina native who drove with Jeffery Vargas Estremera to Edinburg for the drug exchange, police said during a news conference Monday. When police arrived at the scene, Morales was bleeding from his torso and was immediately sent to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries that day.

“It’s never a good day when we have to report a death to a family,” Arielle Benedict, Edinburg Police Department’s public information officer, said. “And so under these circumstances, no matter the circumstances they are, it is never OK… So, we hope that with our investigation that we can provide some kind of closure for the family and we hope the family can find peace again.”

Cornelio Mata Jr.

By the time police arrived at the hotel, the three other men involved in the exchange had fled. Estremera, 24, is being charged with two counts of attempted murder; and Cornelio Mata Jr., 26, and Stephan Santos, 34, are each being charged with one count of capital murder. Santos also faces one count of evading arrest.

However, all three men are now in Edinburg custody and were arraigned last Friday.

When investigators responded to the call regarding the stabbing Wednesday afternoon, they knew the names of those involved in the exchange and were told that the vehicle tied to the stabbing incident was a black Dodge Charger.

Stephan Santos

Benedict said minutes after, a vehicle of that description was identified. When officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the vehicle fled and a high speed chase ensued.

The pursuit ended when the vehicle crashed at the intersection of Anglo Road and 24th Avenue. Santos was identified as the driver and was found with gunshot wounds to his legs. He was apprehended at the scene.

Later in the afternoon, Estremera checked himself in at a freestanding emergency room in Alamo, also displaying gunshot wounds to his legs.

Then on Thursday evening, Mata was found and arrested in Pharr without injuries.

The case is still an ongoing investigation, so the drugs involved were not revealed by the department. However, it was confirmed that no drugs were recovered at the scene, just weapons and money.

Santos’ total bond is set at $1,100,000. Mata’s bond is set at $1,000,000, and Vargas’ bond is $500,000.

Benedict added that she was impressed about how quickly the department was able to identify all suspects of the case.

“The investigators and officers on scene, not only did they find the suspect (alive) within minutes after the incident itself, but all suspects involved in this case were apprehended within 48 hours,” she said. “In all my time in Edinburg, I have never seen a heinous crime, a violent crime as this with a murder suspect get away for very long and not very far. The investigators were on their tail just right away, as soon as they arrived.”