WYLIE, Texas - The two 16-year-olds accused of targeting and killing a classmate about 20 miles from Dallas may have done so in a dispute about a girl, authorities said Monday.
The teens are being held in the death of 17-year-old Ivan Mejia, a senior at Wylie East High School. Police say the suspects were apprehended trying to dump the victim's body.
Authorities said in court Monday that the boys choked Mejia to death, and that the victim and one of the boys appeared to be dating the same girl, according to CBS DFW. The station also reported that one of the suspects put Mejia in a headlock and pinched his nose while the other stuffed a sock in his mouth, authorities said. A judge in suburban Collin County ordered that the teens be kept in detention.
Prosecutors said the teens had planned the murder for nearly a week, according to the station.
A 911 call Saturday about a car veering off a highway led police to a wooded area in Garland, south of Wylie, where authorities say they spotted the teens. Police said that when they were interrogated, the boys said they were trying to get rid of Mejia's body.
Police say Mejia had been killed on a road behind the Wylie school.
The two boys, who are juniors at Wylie East, were not identified because they are juveniles. They were being held in Collin County juvenile detention and face murder charges, Wylie Police Sgt. Donna Valdepena said Monday.
"This was planned," Valdepena said. "We do have evidence that it was pre-planned." Valdepena also said there could be other potential suspects in Mejia's death.
An autopsy is pending, according to police.
A mother of one of the suspects released the following statement: "We are in deep sorrow, shock and disbelief.... Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the families involved."
Mejia was remembered by friends for his ambition to help others and to one day join the Marines.
Enrique Hernandez, a 17-year-old resident of nearby Frisco, Texas, went to church with Mejia and remembers seeing him wear his ROTC uniform. "He had trained to go to the Marines and was awaiting his shipment date," Hernandez said in an email. "He had previously promised his mom that he would come back from the Marines safely."
Hernandez said Mejia was someone who worried about others and was quick to lend a helping hand. "He had so many people he could help and he tried to help them all," he said.
Mejia's death comes two years after Wylie East student Nahum Martinez, 15, was fatally shot and left near a storm drain. A 15-year-old teen involved in trying to hide Martinez's body was given 15 years in prison last year.
Valdepena said police were not concerned about the safety situation at Wylie East. "This did not involve the school in any manner," she said Monday.
Ian Halperin, a spokesman for the Wylie school district, said the high school would make counselors available for students when they return from spring break next week.
"The entire Wylie ISD community is shocked and saddened by this senseless act," Halperin said. "We are cooperating with the police as they investigate, and we hope they will be able to provide us with some understanding of how this tragedy unfolded."