The body of Jacinto Hernández Torres was found the night of June 13 in Garland, a suburb of the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, in the southern U.S. state of Texas. 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.
On June 14, 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 June 10. “I sent him a text around 6 p.m. on Friday but he never responded,” she told reporters at a press conference on June 15.
The journalist, who lived in Dallas, was 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. Gibrán Torres, the journalist’s son, told reporters that his father met with a contractor at the house that Friday.
La Estrella confirmed that at the time of his death Torres was working on a story about Mexican professionals who had migrated to the United States and were now working in construction, restaurants, and service-sector jobs, according to a report published in the newspaper.
Torres covered local issues for La Estrella. 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.
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 at one point he had been working on a couple of sensitive stories on illegal immigration and human trafficking, although she said that she did not know further details.
The director of La Estrella, Juan Antonio Ramos said that he talked with Jay Torres the week before his death about details of his assignment. “The details we spoke of were routine and at no moment did we think that there was a risk. Jay was a very dedicated and careful person, who always kept us informed about his work. For this reason, his murder is alarming and worrisome,” Ramos said in a statement published by the newspaper the week that he was reported murdered.
Gibrán Torres 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. A June 22 report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said that police did not think that the murder was related to a robbery, and that they were looking at Torres’s reporting notebooks, as well as more than 30 tenants who live in property owned by Torres’s company.
Torres was born in Monterrey, Mexico, but immigrated to the United States in 1979. He was an active member of the local chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.