Freelance journalist Jay Torres, whose body was found on June 13, had contributed to La Estrella for nearly 20 years. (Rebecca Aguilar)
Freelance journalist Jay Torres, whose body was found on June 13, had contributed to La Estrella for nearly 20 years. (Rebecca Aguilar)

Journalist Jay Torres murdered in Garland, Texas

New York, June 16, 2016–The Committee to Protect journalists is alarmed by the killing of Texas journalist Jacinto Hernández Torres, whose body was found on Monday night in Garland, a northeast suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The journalist, who went by the name Jay Torres, was a freelance contributor for nearly 20 years to La Estrella, the Spanish-language publication of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also worked in real estate.

“We urge authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Jay Torres, including whether his journalistic work was the motive for his death,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas.

On Tuesday, investigators said that Torres, 57, had died from a gunshot wound and that police were treating the death as a homicide, according to a press release by the Garland Police Department. The police said it appeared Torres had been killed several days before the body was found.

Aline Torres, the journalist’s daughter, said her father had been missing since Friday. “I sent him a text around 6 p.m. on Friday but he never responded,” she told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

Torres covered local social issues for La Estrella. A search for his articles on the newspaper’s website shows that he had recently written about residents’ opinions on the Mexican elections, a local meeting on the dangers of underage drinking, and the effect of U.S. voter identification laws.

Torres, who lived in Dallas, was likely in Garland to look at property in relation to his work in real estate. His business partner found his body on the back patio of a house that was for sale and open to prospective buyers on Friday, according to news reports. His daughter told CPJ that he was considering investing in the house in order to resell it.

Aline Torres, who lived with him, said she believes that there could be a link between her father’s journalism and his death. She told reporters at a press conference that he was working on a couple of sensitive stories on illegal immigration and human trafficking.

Gibrán Torres, the journalist’s son, told CPJ that his father had asked about installing a security system on the house in the months before his death. He recalled his father mentioning both that he was investigating riskier stories and that he was worried about dealing with angry tenants as part of his real estate business.

A police spokesperson told CPJ that police are pursuing many different leads and that the investigation is ongoing.

Torres was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but immigrated to the U.S. in 1979. He was an active member of the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Killings of journalists in the United States are relatively rare. At least seven journalists have been killed in the country in direct relation to their work since CPJ began documenting cases in 1992. CPJ reported in 1994 on several unsolved murders of American immigrant journalists in the 1980s and 1990s.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The photo caption and first paragraph have been corrected to reflect that Torres worked for La Estrella for nearly 20 years.