Garland detectives are combing through both journalism and real estate records of slain reporter Jacinto “Jay” Hernandez Torres in the search for his killer, Garland police said this week.
Detectives confiscated reporter notebooks that were in his car when Torres was found shot to death June 13 in the backyard of a Garland residence, family members said. They also have provided Garland police with the names of more than 30 tenants who lived on property owned by Torres’ company, The Establishment Inc. in Dallas.
Torres was a freelance reporter and photographer for La Estrella, the Star-Telegram’s bilingual publication, for almost two decades and he was a real estate agent. As a journalist, he went by the name Jay Torres.
“Detectives are going through a lot of information,” Garland police Lt. Pedro Barineau said Tuesday. “And they are looking at everything. The problem is that he was there several days before he was found.”
Police don’t believe Torres was robbed, because he wasn’t missing any items.
“Detectives have several leads, but they are having to interview several different people,” Barineau said.
Although he never provided his family with details of the stories he was working on, Torres had written “risky” stories in the past, his daughter, Aline Torres, said in a telephone interview this week.
She said he had been working on a story since October that she described as risky, but she said her father did not go into detail about it.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Garland police. Tips also can be submitted to Garland Crime Stoppers at (972) 272-8477 or garlandcrimestoppers.org.
In one of his last stories for La Estrella, Torres interviewed a group of Mexican citizens who traveled in eight vehicles to México to vote in the June 5 elections.
According to the story Torres wrote, a group of doctors and attorneys were part of the caravan. They had received their degrees in Mexico but had immigrated to the United States to work in the construction industry.
“I called Jay to talk about doing a feature story about professionals from México who work in construction, restaurants or the service industry,” Juan Antonio Ramos, executive editor of La Estrella, said. “A sort of human interest story about those professionals who have immigrated to this country.”
Torres agreed to work on the assignment.
“That was the last conversation we had,” Ramos said. “He was diligent in pursuing leads, he’d look very carefully into those stories and whenever he had something definite, he would call us to talk about it.”
Ramos said Garland police have not contacted him.
Family members said that Torres had five to six reporter notebooks in his car and carried one or two with him. Those notebooks are being reviewed by Garland police.
Aline Torres said stories written by her father angered several readers in the past.
“He had written stories on Hispanics getting scammed, and that pissed off some people,” she said.
Torres considered surveillance camera
Torres also had to deal from time to time with angry tenants as part of his real estate business.
His son, Gibran Torres, said at least one of them had a long criminal history.
“He had talked about installing a surveillance camera at his office in Dallas,” Gibran Torres said. “The windows were so high at his office that he couldn’t see who was approaching his door. He felt it would be safer if he could see them.”
Family members said Torres wrote everything down and didn’t use a computer.
“We’re having to go through all his records and then giving it to the police to help them with the investigation,” Gibran Torres said. “We’re hoping it helps.”
Torres was last seen June 11 at a Garland home that was for sale in the 4200 block of Mayflower Drive. Gibran Torres said his father met with a foundation repair contractor at the residence, where the Dallas journalist would be found dead a few days later.
“I texted him about 6 p.m. on that Friday but he didn’t respond,” Aline Torres said in a telephone interivew. “I tried again on Saturday, the next day, and again he didn’t answer, but I wasn’t worried.”
Torres’ business partner found his body on the evening of June 13. Garland police said that Torres had been dead for “multiple days.”
National organizations speak out
National organizations including the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom have called for investigation into the death.
“I condemn the murder of Jacinto Hernández Torres,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a statement released Wednesday. “I call on the authorities to investigate this killing and its motives so that those responsible for it be brought to trial.”
Carlos Lauría, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas said, “It’s important that authorities thoroughly investigate the murder of Jay Torres, including whether his journalistic work was the motive for his death."
Mekahlo Medina, national president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said Torres’ homicide affected the organization.
“We are alarmed by the death of Jay and urge the authorities to investigate thoroughly, including whether his journalistic work was the cause of his death,” Medina said.
Since 1992, seven journalists have been killed in the United States, according to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York. Four were murdered and three killed while on dangerous assignments. Those assignments included demonstrations, riots, clashes between rival groups and mob situations.
This report contains information from La Estrella and Star-Telegram archives.