weather icon Rain
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Brothers indicted in connection with man found dead in Summerlin desert

Updated January 7, 2023 - 8:41 am

A grand jury indicted two brothers on Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of a man whose body was found at a Summerlin construction site in 2021.

Ronald Munoz, 21, was shot in the head and left in the desert on the outskirts of the Las Vegas Valley near Alta Drive and Cross Bridge Road, the Metropolitan Police Department has said. His body was found the morning of Aug. 28, 2021.

Court records show that brothers Nicolas and Wilfred Santos were charged in September 2021 and December 2021, respectively, in connection with Munoz’s death. The two also have recently pleaded guilty in a federal case involving illegal drugs and homemade weapons.

A grand jury indicted the brothers on Friday on felony counts of conspiracy to commit murder and murder with use of a deadly weapon.

During a court hearing Friday, prosecutors indicated the killing happened during a failed burglary attempt, according to online court records.

A third man, 21-year-old Alfred McDade, was charged with murder with a deadly weapon in October 2021.

McDade waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and a guilty plea agreement was filed under seal in December, court records show. Prosecutors also filed documents in December altering the charges against McDade to conspiracy to commit murder, attempted burglary of a business and accessory to murder after the fact.

An arrest report for McDade identified the two other men only by their first names and indicated they were arrested during a federal investigation into illegal firearms in early September.

Nicolas and Wilfred Santos have both since pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to deal in firearms without a license, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and illegal possession of a machine gun. Wilfred Santos also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon, court records show.

According to federal court documents, the brothers sold multiple guns to an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The agent contacted the brothers through a Snapchat flyer advertising a fully automatic “ghost gun,” which typically refers to handmade firearms without a serial number, often manufactured with a 3D printer.

After the brothers were arrested in the federal investigation, a woman called federal authorities to report the two were also involved in a killing, according to an arrest report.

According to the report, cellphone records placed Nicolas and Wilfred Santos at the construction site the morning that Munoz’s body was discovered. A Honda Pilot was also seen on video surveillance fleeing the scene.

On Sept. 4, police stopped the SUV in Las Vegas while Alfred McDade was driving, the arrest report said. Investigators found blood across the car’s front seat, “signs of cleaning” in the car and stain removal products in the trunk.

Police also found texts between Nicolas and Wilfred Santos that detailed their plans to burn the car they borrowed, take out a loan and escape to San Diego, the report said.

The owner of the SUV told police she lent it to McDade and Nicolas Santos before the killing, and the two later called her from California to ask for permission to burn the car.

In an interview with police, the mother of Nicolas Santos’ child said Nicolas Santos told her his brother had shot someone and driven the body out to the desert, the report said.

The brothers are scheduled to appear in court for an initial arraignment on Feb. 2. A sentencing hearing for McDade has not been set, although he is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 16.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.