A Hidalgo County grand jury has indicted the first of four men on a charge of murder over allegations on his role in the death of a 54-year-old man who McAllen police say was restrained, assaulted and killed two days before investigators found his body.

Barker

District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. confirmed 20-year-old Mission resident Daniel Barker was indicted Tuesday on a charge of murder for the death of Ricky Dowal Etheridge, who police say was beaten to death on Aug. 29 over the alleged theft of narcotics.

The other susepcts in Etheridge’s death include 45-year-old Jose Luis Sanchez Jr., 37-year-old Daniel Gilbert Garren and 47-year-old Rene Everett Casas. Rodriguez said their cases have not yet been presented to a grand jury.

Sanchez remains jailed on a $1.5 million bond. Online jail records don’t return any results for Garren, but McAllen police did arrest him and bond was set at $1.5 million.

Casas remains a fugitive and has an arrest warrant for murder.

Anyone with information about Casas’ whereabouts or the murder are asked to call McAllen Crime Stoppers at (956) 687-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be anonymously submitted through the smartphone app “P3 TIPS.” A cash reward may be available if information leads to an arrest.

McAllen police discovered Etheridge’s body in an apartment after a welfare concern from the man’s girlfriend.

“McAllen Police Detectives had received information from the victim’s girlfriend indicating that she had not heard from her boyfriend, Ricky Etheridge. The girlfriend said she received a phone call from a friend of Ricky’s who told her that Ricky may have been beaten and shot,” a probable cause affidavit.

This led detectives to an apartment in the 100 block of North 15th Street on Sept. 1.

During the investigation, police spoke with Sanchez, who lived in an apartment across from the crime scene.

He told detectives several people had been gathering at the apartment for several days leading up to the discovery of Etheridge’s body and provided “a version” of what happened, police say.

“Mr. Sanchez named about three males that may have contributed to the assault, leading to the death of Mr. Etheridge. Mr. Sanchez told detectives that on Saturday, August 29, 2020, he distinctly recognized the voice of Mr. Etheridge coming from the 2nd floor where the deceased was found. He said Mr. Etheridge was screaming and believed that Mr. Etheridge was being assaulted,” the probable cause affidavit states.

Detectives later determined Sanchez was a suspect and had been trying to mislead them.

Police also accuse Garren of trying to mislead them as well as tampering with physical evidence for removing planks of wood.

“Mr. Garren further admitted to destryoing and concealing crucial pieces of evidence from the crime scene,” a probable cause affidavit states.

McAllen police say he confessed to being involved in the fatal assault.

Barker, the first to be arrested and now the first to be indicted, confessed, police say.

“The investigation revealed that Mr. Barker had not acted alone and several suspects had also assaulted Mr. Etheridge,” the affidavit states.

McAllen police also charged 59-year-old Michael Thomas McPhee and 48-year-old Saundra Sanchez, both McAllen residents, in the case.

They face a charge of failure to report a felony involving death. McPhee faces additional charges of tampering with physical evidence with the intent to impair and hindering apprehension or prosecution.