Marana police have charged two juveniles in the March 11 murder of 16-year-old Austin Wayne Maudsley.
Santos Angel Hernandez, 15, and Dante Ishmael Solomon, 17, sit in the Pima County Jail charged as adults on first-degree murder and robbery charges. During their interviews, the suspects admitted their involvement in the incident, said Marana police chief Terry Rozema.
Maudsley was last seen March 11 at the Ora Mae Harn Park in Marana, where he and other family members were watching his sister play baseball. He left the park with Hernandez and Solomon, and made contact with his family by cell phone that night at 7:30.
The family returned to the park later that night to look for the 16-year-old but did not find him. The next morning, Maudsley’s mother contacted the Marana Police Department. She was transferred to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department because the family resides in an unincorporated area of the county.
Since Maudsley had left the park voluntarily and the family hoped he would return home soon, a decision was made to wait until that Monday morning, March 14, to file a runaway report with the PCSD.
Maudsley’s body was found March 18 by a man walking his dog in the field directly south of the Marana Police Department, near the park and the suspects’ residences in the 13000 block of N. Lon Adams.
Due to the state of the body, police were unable to immediately determine the cause of death, gender or identity. Maudsley was identified three days later, on March 21, using dental records supplied by the family.
According to police, the 16-year-old had left the park March 11 with Hernandez and Solomon, with whom he was acquainted and with whom he appeared to have encountered by chance that night. All three had prior run-ins with the police.
The suspects told police they went to Solomon’s home on the pretext of getting something. Leaving Maudsley outside, the suspects allegedly obtained two knives from inside the house; they then led Maudsley to the field on a false pretense. Once there, Maudsley was stabbed multiple times, according to the autopsy report. The juveniles took Maudsley’s wallet and then left him in the field, according to police.
Police belief the juveniles murdered Maudsley because he had disrespected them that night as well as on a previous occasion. Chief Rozema would not elaborate due to the ongoing investigation.
Rozema credited tips from the community and hard work by his department in achieving the arrests.
“We will continue to foster those relationships to keep the community safe,” he told reporters at a press conference on March 25, adding his department “will not allow and accept crime to take root in our community.”