Arrests made in Houston doctor's murder

August 28, 2009 9:52:36 PM PDT
Two suspects have been arrested in the murder of a prominent Houston doctor who was shot at his Bellville ranch last weekend. Police are still looking for a third suspect. At the wake for Dr. Jorge Mario Gonzalez Friday evening, the sadness was mixed with a little good news.

"It's a relief to know these men have been arrested," said Dr. Jeff Kalina of the Methodist Hospital.

Shortly before friends and family starting gathering to pay their respects in the Galleria-area, sheriff's deputies and Texas Rangers were making a big announcement in Bellville.

"We were able to link both these brothers to the crime scene," said Capt. Freeman Martin of the Texas Rangers.

Brothers Cristobal Galvan Cerna, 23, and Moises Galvan Cerna, 18, are charged with Dr. Gonzalez's murder. They are related to a ranch hand who worked on Dr. Gonzalez's Bellville ranch. We are told both men are in the country illegally and Cristobal had a felony warrant out for aggravated sexual assault in Harris County.

Police say there is a third suspect involved, Misael Santollo, 18, who is a cousin of the Cernas. Santollo is a U.S. citizen, born in California. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Investigators say Dr. Jorge Mario Gonzalez, his wife and a ranch hand were attacked by four men when they arrived at Gonzalez's ranch on Saturday. Dr. Gonzalez was killed and the ranch hand was shot and injured, while Gonzalez's wife and young son hid from the killers.

Capt. Martin said, "He (the doctor) was assaulted as he approached the residence. He was able to enter the residence. There were three suspects at the ranch prior to his arrival. They were wearing masks and gloves.

"We believe the doctor entered the residence first. He was able to obtain a handgun and attempted to defend his family.

"At least two of the three suspects at the house had handguns and they exchanged gunshots with the doctor. Dr. Gonzalez was shot and died at the scene."

While hiding with her baby, Dr. Gonzalez's wife was reportedly on the phone with 911 operators during the incident.

For a week, investigators had no suspects, then an irregularity. A state trooper captured this white pickup on his dash cam as it left the area near the ranch after the shooting. The brothers, officials say, tried to cover their tracks.

"We discovered the license plate on the truck had been renewed on Monday and new plates were obtained even though the old tags had not expired. We also discovered that this Ford pickup was registered to the stepfather of the ranch hand," said Capt. Martin.

Investigators zeroed in on the ranch hand's brothers, the Cernas, who often drove the pickup. Though authorities won't reveal the link, they say there is one, but the motive is still unclear.

"We do not believe the doctor owed any money. We do not believe he was involved with any foul play. We are collecting facts, and I hate to speculate on a motive," said Capt. Martin.

At this point, police don't believe the ranch hand was involved. He is still hospitalized.

Authorities are pleased with the progress, but they are still looking for the third suspect, Santollo, and his red Honda Civic, also captured leaving the crime scene, as Dr. Gonzalez's friends and family continue to mourn.

"We are hopeful that justice will be served and at this point we are just mourning the sad loss of our friend and colleague," said Dr. Kalina.

If you've seen Misael Santollo, or know where he is, you can make some money by calling Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.There is a cash reward.

Dr. Gonzalez was Chief of Critical Care at Methodist Hospital. His funeral is Saturday morning at 10am at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on Buffalo Speedway.

      QUICK HEADLINES | MORE LOCAL | GET NEWS ALERTS
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABC13 SOCIAL NETWORKING
Find us on Facebook® | Follow us on Twitter | More social networking
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MORE FROM ABC13
ABC13 widget | Most popular stories | Street-level weather
ABC13 wireless | Slideshow archive | Help solve crimes
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Load Comments