Murder victim known to visit day labor camps, hire workers to pose for him
A gay North Dallas man who was found murdered in his apartment two weeks ago may have been killed by a day laborer he had hired to pose nude for him.
Enrique Rodriguez, 62, was described by his friends as a quiet man who liked fine wine and food and the company of friends, but a police detective said the victim led an “off-the-beaten-path lifestyle” that included paying day workers an hourly rate to pose nude while he sketched them, according to Sr. Cpl. Janice Crowther, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department.
The Collin County medical examiner determined Rodriguez died from strangulation.
Neighbors of Rodriguez, who moved to the United States from Puerto Rico at the age of 18, told police the victim often went nude in his apartment.
Police suspect Rodriguez, whose body police found unclothed in an apartment closet during a welfare check on Aug. 19, picked up his killer several days before his body was discovered.
Witnesses told police that Rodriguez regularly picked up men from labor camps in Frisco for nude modeling jobs.
Mario Alegria, 17, is charged with capital murder in connection with Rodriguez’s death and being held in the Collin County Jail on $100,000 bond. He reportedly is an illegal immigrant, and the Department of Homeland Security has placed a hold on his release as well.
Pete Webb, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said Rodriguez’s death shows how vulnerable people are when they take strangers inside their homes.
“We have a crime problem, and it is dangerous to pick up strangers,” Webb said. “Hopefully, this unfortunate situation will make people better aware of personal safety and aware of their surroundings and what is going on.”
Webb said he had never before heard of people picking up people at day labor camps.
“I’ve known of people being robbed or violated by someone they met out at a club, but as far as a day labor camp this is completely new,” Webb said.
Rodriguez’s 2006 Kia Rio was stopped by Plano police on Aug. 21. Several people were riding inside the car, and they helped police locate the suspect in a Frisco apartment. He was arrested the following day.
Police said they found electronic equipment missing from Rodriquez’s apartment in the Frisco location.
Police said witnesses told them Alegria was a known acquaintance of Rodriguez’s, but his friends claimed that was unlikely. They said Rodriguez did not go to nightclubs and never socialized with younger people.
Rodriguez reportedly has two sisters living in Puerto Rico but no family members in the United States. The victim lived in New York until four years ago when he moved to Dallas following the terrorist attacks in 2001.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 25, 2006.