Friend remembers homicide victim as police continue to search for evidence
KITCHENER -- Police spent Thursday searching for a possible weapon and other evidence linked to a homicide in Wilmot Township.
A man was found dead in a farm field near St. Agatha early Wednesday morning.
Court documents obtained by CTV News show the accused is 33-year-old Alex Lopez Noriega. He's been charged with first-degree murder.
The court documents identified the victim as Luis Gabriel Cahuec Moran. Police said the accused and victim were living in Wilmot Township.
Moran's friend Byron Cruz said Moran was from a small town in Guatemala, where he was also a volunteer firefighter.
Cruz met Moran in Delta, B.C. in 2017. While Moran was working on a farm there, he volunteered to speak on behalf of migrant workers at B.C.'s Minimum Wage Commission.
From there, Moran went to work on a farm in Quebec before ending up in St. Agatha. It's not clear at this point which farm was employing Moran in Ontario.
Cruz said Moran wasn't afraid to speak about conditions for migrant workers. He also was raising money for an ill family member, according to Cruz.
Moran leaves behind a wife and three children. Cruz said he had to tell Moran's wife about her husband's death.
"It is heartbreaking," Cruz said. "The first reaction from his wife was 'I want Luis back. Could you please reassure me that Luis will be back as soon as possible. We want his body.'"
His body is still considered evidence for police in the homicide investigation.
Noriega was initially charged with second-degree murder, but that charge was upgraded.
Police said Moran suffered from significant head trauma.
"Evidence was gathered which led investigators to upgrade the charge to first-degree murder," said Ashley Dietrich with the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
Cruz said both men were likely from the same town of roughly 38,000 people.
"I don't know the specific details surrounding the relationship, I just know they were known to each other," Dietrich said.
Cruz added migrant workers in Guatemala are brought to Canada through a recruiter and they probably would have found workers in one area.
On Thursday, investigators had a search warrant for a home on the property where Moran's body was found, allowing police to search for more evidence.
It's not clear if a weapon was involved, but investigators are looking for more clues about what led to the murder.
Police were dressed head to toe in protective suits while searching the property on Erb's Road.
"Possibly a weapon that may have been used, to further this investigation," Dietrich said.
Police said the accused left the scene on foot and was arrested near Charles Street in Kitchener.
A woman who lives nearby told CTV News she encountered what she described as a suspicious man about a kilometre from the property hours before police discovered the dead man in the field.
She said the man was standing outside her building in St. Agatha, talking to her neighbour around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday. She said her neighbour offered to call the man a cab, but he seemed upset and afraid they were going to call the police.
The man allegedly said he wanted to go to downtown Kitchener, but left the area on foot.
She said she's contacted Crime Stoppers after hearing about the homicide.
The accused is due back in court again on Friday.