Cousins criminally linked to 2 recent disappearances, deputies say

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two recent high profile disappearance cases have now been linked together. Detectives say the victims were targeted via social media 'hookup sites.'

Glenser Soliman, a nurse supervisor for St. Luke's Hospital, was found dead in February. University of Houston student An Nguyen has been missing since March 31 and investigators now presume he is dead, although his body has never been found.

Soliman, 44, was missing for 11 days before his body was discovered under some debris in the 2800 block of Hirschfield. Nothing had been disturbed at his home in Spring and his vehicle was missing. Relatives said Soliman was a responsible, routine-oriented person who would never just disappear.

VIDEO: 1 arrested, 1 sought in connection with missing person cases

Brandon Lyons, 18, was initially charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the theft of Soliman's vehicle. He has been in the Harris County Jail since April. Eyewitness News has learned phone records place him near where Soliman's body was found. Court documents say Soliman had been beaten and choked.

Lyons has now been charged with capital murder.

Deputy Michael Ritchie with the Harris County Sheriff's Office said, "During our investigation of this case, in early April I was made aware of another missing man by the name of An Nguyen. Through our investigation and through things that we discovered, we realized that these cases were most likely linked."

UH student Nguyen, 26, vanished after leaving a friend's home on March 31, saying he was going home to finish a paper. He was never seen or heard from again, and never made it to a scheduled job interview. The Harris County Sheriff's Office recovered his 2016 Jeep Renegade in the Spring area, not far from where Soliman's vehicle was found.

VIDEO: Timeline of Glenser Soliman, An Nguyen disappearances
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Timeline of two recent Houston disappearances

His brother, Loc Nguyen, said An's disappearance has left his family in agony. He said his grandma has cried every day since An went missing.

According to court records, surveillance video shows Jerrett Jamal Allen, Lyons' cousin, driving Nguyen's Jeep and using his debit card to withdraw hundreds of dollars in cash from an ATM. Allen, 26, has been charged with unlawfully using Nguyen's credit cards.

"We were able to link both Brandon Lyons and Jerrett Allen together," Ritchie said. "They are cousins, and they were living together at the time that both men disappeared."

Investigators are actively searching for Allen.

"His last known whereabouts were in El Paso in early to mid-April. Since then we don't know where he is," Ritchie said.

Investigators believe that both victims in these cases were lured by the suspects using social media.

"Both of them were Asian males. Both of them were possibly using social media chat sites," Ritchie explained. "Different sites, such as kind of like, chat sites, friend sites, hook up sites, things like that."

"Also, both of their vehicles were abandoned in similar areas, and ... other circumstances around the case had the same characteristics," Ritchie continued.

The motives for the cases have not been determined.

"There are several possibilities, robbery could possibly be one, but there are several different possibilities, and it's still under investigation as to exactly why," Ritchie said. "It's possible, whether it's a hate crime, or whether they're being targeted for certain characteristics, it is possible. That's still under investigation."

Authorities are investigating any other possible victims that could be tied to the cases.

Ritchie said, "One of the reasons we're having this conference is that there are other victims out there, or possibly victims that did get away, that maybe could give us more information."

Authorities had a word of advice for social media users.

"One of the things I can caution to everyone using social media chat sites is knowing who you're speaking with," Ritchie said. "If you're going to meet up with somebody, having someone else there, in a public place, not going to their home residence by yourself, and also, not inviting them to your home residence to invite them or show them where you live."

Anyone with information on the cases or Allen's whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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