Deputy arrested, sheriff says murdered tow truck driver may be linked to carjacking victim’s death

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Two murders in two separate Central Florida counties last week now appear to be connected, according to investigators.


We told you last week about the Seminole County carjacking and abduction that ultimately ended in the death of Katherine Aguasvivas.

We also reported on a shooting in Orange County that took the life of Juan Cintron-Garcia.

Read: Sheriff: Car used in carjacking, kidnapping near Winter Springs tied to Taft murder 1 day earlier

On Monday, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said he believes the suspect vehicle and weapon in both cases seem to tie the two together.

Katherine’s father told our affiliate station in Miami that finding out about the death was a heavy blow to the whole family.

He asked to remain anonymous out of fear for his family following what happened but said Katherine always took care of them.

Sheriff Lemma said Katherine was carjacked and abducted last Thursday at a stoplight in Winter Springs.

The crime was all caught on cellphone video.

In the video, you can see a masked man holding a gun go up to the white SUV Katherine was in and appear to threaten her, then get in the back seat.

Read: Orange County deputy accused of calling detective to obtain information about carjacking, kidnapping

They take off and are followed by a green Acura.

“What’s unique about a 2002 green Acura in the state of Florida is that there are only three in the state of Florida,” said Sheriff Lemma. “Two had been salvaged and only one existed in the state.”

Investigators said back in March that the same car was towed from an apartment complex in Orange County.

“The tow truck driver of that particular tow of this vehicle was a murder victim in Orange County that happened one day before our kidnapping murder,” said Sheriff Lemma.

The tow truck driver was identified as Juan Cintron-Garcia.

Read: Madeline Soto’s biological father says he was blindsided by her death, seeks closure

Witnesses told investigators a similar green car was spotted at the scene where Cintron-Garcia was shot and killed last Wednesday night in Taft.

Our cameras captured dozens of bullet holes and evidence markers left behind, where we’re told more than a hundred rounds were fired.

Many of those rounds, according to the Seminole County Sheriff, were 10mm rounds– matching the rounds found at a construction site in Osceola County where Katherine’s burned SUV and body were found.

“An incredibly unique and uncommon round for us to see out on the streets,” said Sheriff Lemma.

“I absolutely think [the murders] are connected, but we’ll have to have physical evidence that absolutely proves that.”

The green Acura was found over the weekend, but the people who were inside and are believed to have committed both crimes have not been located. The sheriff’s office is asking for the public’s help to find them.

We also learned an Orange County deputy was arrested for his alleged involvement in the case.

That deputy is facing five felony charges related to wiretapping and unlawful use of police databases.

Sheriff Lemma said Deputy Francisco Estrella contacted Seminole County’s lead investigator assigned to the case and used a fake name and claimed he was an Orange County Detective as well as a cousin to the victim.

It was all to relay information about the case to the victim’s husband.

Law enforcement expert Randy Nelson says there are rules in place to prevent these kinds of abuse of power.

“Law enforcement have information and have access to information, but only in an official capacity,” said Nelson. “Not - can’t use it for personal reasons or outside. So, if guilty, he was outside of due bounds because he was using information outside of his personal capacity and was sharing that information which was confidential.”

Investigators said Estrella sent the victim’s husband a recorded conversation he had with deputies -- as well as screenshots from a law enforcement database.

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