• Texas murder suspect arrested in Charlotte after 19 years on the run

    By: Stephanie Tinoco

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Johnnie Freeman said he watched as undercover officers stormed into his Kannapolis neighborhood.

    Police searched for his next-door neighbor off Rod Drive. Apolinar Tejeda, 65, was wanted for murder from 19 years ago.

    "Just a bunch of chaos over there and we were just wondering what was going on,” Freeman said. “It was pretty shocking."

    Authorities said they were unable to locate Tejeda at his home but developed information that he was working construction on Belmeade Drive in Charlotte.

    Officials said the Homeland Security Investigations offices in Winston-Salem and Charlotte coordinated with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Violent Criminal Apprehension Team to arrest Tejeda at the Belmeade Drive location.

    Tejeda was arrested and taken to the Gaston County Detention Center, where he is awaiting extradition to Texas.

    The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said Tejeda was living in Kannapolis under the name “Leopoldo Silva."

    "Next thing you know, I see about five or six other cop cars with guns drawn,” Freeman said. “We had our kids go back that way because we didn't know what was going on.”

    Officers said Tejeda killed his wife in Stafford, Texas, 19 years ago and took off.

    Residents were stunned they had an accused killer in their neighborhood.

    "We would see him every now and then, but never had an actual conversation,” Freeman said. "He seemed normal, pretty much kept to himself."

    The Fort Bend County, Texas, Sheriff's Office said Rosa Liberato was found shot to death in 1999 inside her car in the parking lot where she worked.

    Tejeda has been wanted for questioning ever since, and nearly two decades later, he was arrested.

    "If he murdered his wife, I hope he gets convicted,” Freeman said.

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