Joshua Wilkerson, a young man who had been missing for a little more than 24 hours, was found Wednesday night in a wooded area in Pearland, Texas. His body was beaten and burned beyond reconginzion — all because he was gay.
Charges have just been filed against a suspect, identified as Hermilo Moralez. He beat Joshua Wilkerson to death with a large wooden rod, sometime Tuesday afternoon. The 19 year-old suspect then burned 18 year-old Joshua’s body. Moralez is now in custody on $32,000 bond.
Moralez confessed to the crime and led investigators to Joshua’s body. Moralez told investigators Wilkerson gave him a ride in his truck after school and sometime later, the victim “began to come on to him in a sexual manner.” Moralez said he hit Wilkerson and the two got out of the vehicle and started fighting. Moralez grabbed a nearby piece of wood and hit Wilkerson with it. When he got up from the ground, he noticed Wilkerson had stopped moving. Moralez told investigators Wilkerson was beaten up severely, with blood running from his nose and mouth. He also said the victim was a “messed up” individual.
Moralez claims he got into Wilkerson’s truck and initially said he left the victim behind. He parked the truck next to a dumpster near a restaurant, and threw Wilkerson’s shoes and backpack into the dumpster.
Initially, Moralez refused to reveal the victim’s location. Moralez later said the body was gone and that he could not find him. At one point he said Wilkerson “melted” into the ground and was gone. Eventually he told investigators he took Wilkerson’s body in his truck to an area near the dead-end of FM 518 where he burned it. Moralez led police through a wooded area to the body. The victim’s body was found partially burned, with the hands and feet bound, in a Pearland, TX field.
At the Pearland City Jail, Moralez told an investigator the actual murder took place in the back patio of his father’s home. The wooden rod used in the murder was thrown over the fence to an adjacent field. When police arrived, they discovered a “large amount” of blood near a barbecue pit. A search of the adjacent field uncovered a wooden closet rod with blood on one end.
According to police, Moralez was previously a person of interest in the investigation when he was noticed loitering near Joshua Wilkerson’s abandoned vehicle. Moralez stopped several times to observe the investigation through large bushes in the area. When police asked him if he knew the victim, Moralez answered yes in an “excited tone.” As investigators questioned him further, the document stated Moralez became nervous, his hands and legs shaking. A fresh scratch wound was seen on the suspect’s face stretching from his left eyebrow to the left side of his neck. When asked how he got that injury, Moralez stated he did not know.
Moralez was taken out of jail to help police in search and rescue operations on the ground. Moralez was handcuffed, walking through a field with other officers, according to a statement from Pearland Police. The officers were going over a fence when Moralez attempted to grab an officer’s handgun from his holster. He was restrained and taken back to jail, now charged with attempting to take a weapon from an officer.
Moralez is seen below, smiling in his mug shot. Pearland Police state they have not yet found a clear motive for the killing -= really guys??? -= He killed him because he way gay.
It’s a hate crime — and thankfully — Texas has the death penalty.