Who is Joel Arciniega-Saenz? New Mexico man 'played soccer' with victim's head

Joel Arciniega-Saenz, 25, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of James Garcia. He is accused of stabbing and beheading the victim

                            Who is Joel Arciniega-Saenz? New Mexico man 'played soccer' with victim's head
Joel Arciniega-Saenz was arrested on first-degree murder charges in the tragic death of James Garcia (Doña Ana County Detention Center)


LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO: A suspect has reportedly admitted to brutally decapitating a 51-year-old man and "playing soccer" with his head at a park in Las Cruces on Father's Day. KFOX 14 reported how 25-year-old Joel Arciniega-Saenz was arrested on first-degree murder charges in the tragic death of James Garcia at Apodaca Park on June 20. The suspect is accused of stabbing and beheading his alleged victim

Arciniega-Saenz told police that he followed Garcia to the park after the latter allegedly robbed him while hanging out at his house a couple of days earlier. The New Mexico suspect also claimed without evidence that Garcia had raped Arciniega-Saenz’s wife several years ago. However, he wouldn't identify his wife to the authorities.


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Arciniega-Saenz said he dragged Garcia’s body to the street and kicked the victim's severed head at 14 cars parked in the vicinity. Officers who responded to the scene found Garcia's head yards away from his body. Arciniega-Saenz is also accused of hacking one of Garcia's middle fingers. The suspect was later apprehended at the Apodaca park with a bloody knife and dried blood on his clothes.

According to KDBC, Arciniega-Saenz was previously arrested in 2017 for the shooting death of 21-year-old Benjamin Montoya. However, charges in that case were dismissed after a key witness was found to possess a gun of the same caliber as the one used to kill Montoya, per the station.

Speaking to KDBC, Montoya's sister expressed how she was enraged after reading that the suspect had allegedly confessed to Garcia's murder. "I prayed he wouldn’t do it again and ruin someone else’s family," Krystal Montoya told the station. "I just was very angry because they let a monster out."

According to the report, Arciniega-Saenz was also arrested last month for vandalizing businesses in Las Cruces. However, he was somehow released again. The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office told KFOX14 in a statement it "diligently argued to keep this guy in jail on the most recent charges for vandalizing Beck’s Coffee House, but the District Court Judge Wingenroth ‘didn’t find him dangerous’ and released him on a $2,000 bond."

Montoya bemoaned, "I don’t want this guy to be released again and go do something stupid again and go hurt another family again. No matter how much I hurt for my brother, I can say that I hurt for this person‘s family. He needs to be put away, period."

Court documents note how the suspect's hands were covered in dried blood following the June 20 killing. “I was just shocked it actually happened. It’s stuff you see in crime movies or stuff like that,” Las Crucean Mark Rey told KFOX 14. Arciniega-Saenz reportedly bragged to the authorities how he played soccer with the victim's severed head, knocking it around cars that were parked nearby.

Meanwhile, the community expressed shock following the disturbing information detailed in the criminal complaint. “That’s disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. This is a small-town community. That’s sad, that’s disgusting and sad,” Jose Maes, who’s lived in Las Cruces for more than two decades, told KFOX 14.

Arciniega-Saenz is remanded in custody at the Doña Ana County Detention Center without bond on a first-degree murder charge.