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Hickory man arrested and charged with murder, following month-long investigation

Juan Jesus Santellan is charged with the murder of Luiz Enrique Rodriguez

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — An autopsy has revealed that a person found dead earlier this month died as the result of a homicide.

On Thursday, the Catawba County Sheriff's Office announced that a medical examiner had ruled the cause of death for a person found in the county on Dec. 3 to be the result of homicide.

On Dec. 3, someone reported to authorities that they found the body around 4 p.m. in a wooded area along Lee Cline Road near Eckard Road north of Conover. 

On Friday, Dec. 9, officials identified Luiz Enrique Rodriguez as the victim following a fingerprint analysis. Rodriguez was also known as Gose Gutierres, according to officials.

On Thursday, January 12th, officials arrested and charged 31-year-old Juan Jesus Santellan with murder. Santellan is currently being held without bond and has his first appearance Thursday, in Catawba County Court. 

The arrest came from information obtained early Thursday morning regarding the homicide. 

The cause of death and details on what led to the death being ruled a homicide have not been released at this time.

Anyone with information concerning Rodriguez and or this investigation is asked to call Sheriff’s investigators at 828-464-3112.

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