Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Murder in the Neighborhood

This week I have spent part of several days attending a murder trial at our Washington County Courthouse. Ricardo Serrano (age 34) is on trial for killing Melody, Steven (age 15), and Jimmy Dang (age 13). Melody was in her late 30s and the mother of the teenage boys. The victims lived in our neighborhood, though we didn’t know them. They kept to themselves and the only one of the three I ever saw was Steven, waiting at the high school bus stop in the morning. Other neighbors were slightly acquainted with Jimmy but none seem to have known Melody or her live-in, Mike.

The night of the murder Mike went off to work about 9 p.m. When he returned at 6 a.m. he found his family shot to death. I recall hearing helicopters flying over our house about 6:15 that morning, and figured there had been a serious accident nearby. I got up and checked the internet and found the breaking report of a triple murder in my neighborhood. The streets around our area were blocked off by police vehicles and yellow police tape was everywhere. There must have been 40 official vehicles of various types from surrounding jurisdictions doing whatever they do.

The sleazy, sordid story goes like this:

Melody’s live-in, Mike, was having an affair with a co-worker named Melinda.

Melinda’s husband, Ricardo, found out and began stalking his own wife to discover the man’s identity. Melinda and Ricardo have five children.

Melinda informed Ricardo that she was pregnant with Mike’s child.

Ricardo decided the best course of action was to get back at Mike by wiping out his family. He watched until Mike left for work, then (allegedly) burst in and shot the three family members. Ricardo returned to the area the next morning either to watch Mike enter the house and find the bodies, or to kill him as well.

Melody had online relationships with other men, including one in Florida with whom she was speaking on the phone when she was gunned down.

Next week I’ll detail the evidence against Ricardo. By the way, the victims are Vietnamese and the accused is Hispanic.

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