Two men were charged on Thursday, August 29 for the murder of Filipino American firefighter in West Covina, California who was reported missing last week.
Prosecutors said that Elijah Thomas Rouse, 18, of La Verne and Shaun Cardarelli, 37 of San Gabriel were both charged with the killing of 28-year-old John Brian Mananghaya Aguila, and alleged that they killed Aguila with a knife while robbing him.
Investigators are still working to determine if a burned body found at the scene of a brush fire in Upland last Friday morning was that of Aguila.
Family members of Aguila reported him missing after he was last seen leaving his girlfriend’s home on Thursday, August 22 in La Puente.
Working as a part-time firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management, Aguila failed to report to work and never came home — conduct his family said “very uncharacteristic of him,” according to Rudy Lopez, Public Information Officer of the West Covina Police Department.
A day after Aguila was last seen, investigators were able to locate Aguila’s white 2017 Honda Civic at an impound in the city of San Dimas. Video surveillance revealed a male walking away from the car, but investigators determined that it was not Aguila.
Upon searching the car’s trunk, investigators found gloves and clothing with enough blood to suggest that someone was hurt.
Fingerprints found inside the car eventually led investigators to Rouse’s apartment in La Verne early Tuesday morning. There, SWAT members served a search warrant and found enough evidence to arrest both Rouse and Cardarelli.
An autopsy has not yet been conducted on the burned body found in Upland, but investigators said that there was enough evidence found at the apartment to connect the fire to Aguila’s disappearance.
“The checking of the location revealed some information that led us to believe that the incident that we’re investigating is connected to the body that was found burned in the city of Upland,” said Lopez.
Bail for Rouse and Cardarelli is currently set at $1 million each.
If convicted as charged, both face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the LA County District Attorney’s Office. Whether capital punishment should be sought will be decided at a later date. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)