69°F
weather icon Clear

Couple killed Vietnam veteran, burned body in front of kids, police say

HANFORD, Calif. — A couple arrested in central California in the torture and killing of a 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran made their children watch as they burned the man’s body, authorities said.

Stacie Mendoza and Jose Mendoza tortured Kenneth Coyle on April 5 to get him to reveal his bank account details and passwords. After torturing him, the Mendozas allegedly beat and suffocated him to death in his house in the small city of Hanford, said Police Capt. Karl Anderson.

A few days later the couple and their three children drove the body to nearby Madera County, where they burned it while their children watched, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

“We know the children were taken to where the body was burned and watched the body burn,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Coyle, a retired contractor for Naval Air Station Lemoore, first met Stacie Mendoza at a Hanford restaurant where she worked as a waitress. As their relationship developed, she started getting access to his bank account and getting money from him, authorities said.

The couple then went to his house and tortured him to get more money out of him.

“They restrained him on a bed and beat him to get access to his bank account information, passwords and other account information,” Anderson said.

Coyle died of “blunt force trauma and suffocation,” he said.

After getting rid of Coyle’s body, the Mendozas returned to his house last week to steal more things and were spotted by property managers, who called police. Officers tracked Coyle’s cellphone to the couple’s home in Fresno.

Police later arrested them at a restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport. Jose Mendoza had Coyle’s credit card and a plane ticket to his native El Salvador when he was arrested, officials said.

The Mendozas are being held without bail. Their children are in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
100K evacuated as 80 mph winds whip California fires

Forecasts called for Santa Ana winds up to 50 to 80 mph at times over much of Southern California, with some of the strongest gusts howling through Orange County, where two blazes sped through brushy hills near major urban centers.

Barrett sworn in as newest Supreme Court justice

Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in on Monday as the latest justice of the United States Supreme Court, the fifth woman to serve on the bench and President Trump’s third appointment.

60K to evacuate after Southern California blaze grows

A fast-moving wildfire has forced evacuations for 60,000 people in Southern California as powerful winds across the state prompted power to be cut to hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes.

Mike Pence’s top aide tests positive for coronavirus

A spokesman says Vice President Mike Pence will continue with his aggressive campaign schedule after his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday.

Murkowski backs Barrett as confirmation vote looms

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday.

60,000 travelers arrive in Hawaii with pre-travel testing

Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program, a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again amid the pandemic.

FDA approves remdesivir to treat COVID-19

U.S. regulators on Thursday approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given to hospitalized patients through an IV.

Slain Utah student’s family receives $13.5M settlement

The parents of a University of Utah track athlete who was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus two years ago reached a $13.5 million settlement Thursday with the university, which acknowledged that it didn’t handle the woman’s case properly.

Fatal shooting causes closure of Interstate 15 in California

A California Highway Patrol officer was wounded and a stolen-car suspect was killed in a gun battle at the end of a pursuit on a highway northeast of Los Angeles on Thursday, authorities said.