Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peoria, IL: Police arrest suspect in Wednesday stabbing death

PEORIA — An argument over living arrangements early Wednesday apparently led to the stabbing death of a man in South Peoria and an arrest on a murder charge within hours.

Police were called at 3:51 a.m. to 2807 W. Latrobe St. and found Manuel Melendez, 35, with a stab wound to the chest. He was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 a.m.

By early afternoon, police had arrested Johnathan Powers, 26, and booked him into the Peoria County Jail on a single count of first-degree murder. He likely will make his first appearance before a judge to determine his bond Thursday or Friday.

Melendez allegedly was involved in a domestic dispute with his fiancee, Victoria Powers, in the home they shared on Latrobe. As they reportedly argued over the number of people being allowed to stay at their house, he struck her, and the woman’s brother, Johnathan Powers, intervened.

A struggle ensued, and one or both men grabbed for a knife, according to police. Melendez was stabbed in the chest.

Few of those involved in the incident speak English well, and Melendez is an illegal immigrant. Those factors complicated the initial phases of the investigation and hampered authorities’ abilities to confirm certain details of the victim’s identification.

A Wednesday autopsy confirmed the cause of death as stab wounds to the chest, said Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.

It was not clear how long Melendez had been in the United States, though he apparently traveled regularly between Peoria and Kansas City, where he had additional family. His death marks the first homicide of 2012 in the city of Peoria.

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