Police Identify Suspect in Francisco Hernandez Murder

By: Whitney Martin Email
By: Whitney Martin Email

Miguel Garcia

Police say they now know who killed a local father and left his body in an Ogle County Barn.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office has issued a warrant for 43-year-old Miguel Garcia. You may recall that before he went missing a few weeks ago, Francisco Hernandez went to pick up rent from a tenant on Samuelsson road. We’re told Garcia was that tenant. Hernandez’s body was found in an abandoned barn on Edison Rd. Police have already arrested another man in connection with the murder. Rafael Lopez Cardona was charged with concealing a homicide.

Autopsy results show that Hernandez died of a blow to the head.

Anyone with information on Garcia is asked to call the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department (815/319-6400) or Crime Stoppers (815/963-7867).

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- What started as a missing person case has quickly become a gruesome homicide investigation. Police are now closer to answering what happened to Francisco Hernandez.

It looks like a scene from a horror movie. An abandoned farmhouse. Cobwebs layered over weeds. It was the last resting place of Francisco Hernandez, who died from a blow to the head.

Detectives spent all last week looking for Hernandez. His body finally showed up a little after 9pm last night in an abandoned farmhouse barn. His pickup truck was found abandoned in Crystal Lake last Wednesday.

Winnebago County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro said, “It was clear to us that foul play was involved right from the very start."

Police say they say they tried to retrace his steps over the last few weeks to see where he might have gone--that led them here.

Iasparro said, "Obviously he had been missing for a week. We don't know when his body was actually placed there."

It’s still unclear where the murder happened. His family says he was on his way to collect rent from a tenant in Rockford when he went missing. The 52-year-old also owned a landscaping business.

Police arrested 29-year-old Rafael Lopez-Cardona in connection to the crime. He’s being charged with concealing a homicide. He is from Rockford.

It’s not really clear if they are still looking for the killer. Lopez-Cardona has only been charged with concealing a homicide and not actually committing one. It’s possible that authorities may still be looking for whoever did this or they just may not have enough evidence yet to charge him with murder.

UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Just one week ago, family members of Francisco Hernandez reported him missing to the Winnebago County Justice Center. Now Sheriff's announce that Hernandez's body was discovered late Tuesday night.

"Information developed during the course of the investigation led to the discovery of Francisco Hernandez' body on the late evening of Tuesday 1-10-12. His body was found in a barn in an abandoned farm house off Edson Road in Ogle County."

Police note the body sustained some sort of trauma and are further investigating the incident as an apparent murder.

"At this point, one arrest has been made. 29 year old Rafael J. Lopez-Cardona of Rockford has been charged with Concealing a Homicide. He is in the custody of Winnebago County Jail.

ROCKFORD (WIFR)-- The pictures on Diana Lara's walls are now serving as inspiration to not give up on the desperate search for her father.

" I am just praying to find him"

Lara's dad, 52 year old Francisco Hernandez was last seen January third on his way to pick up rent from a tenant in Rockford. His truck was found abandoned in Crystal Lake the next night. The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department believes he may be in danger.

“We have been searching different places he used to go and haven't seen anything.” Says Lara

Hernandez owns several properties in the area including a landscaping business with his brothers. Lara hopes her father is safe and may have just needed some time away.

" I feel like we are going to find him. He's probably just taking a break somewhere…he will come home" she said.

Family members say it isn't like Hernandez to run off. They also say they do not have connections to Crystal Lake and are not sure why his truck ended up there.

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