HARKER HEIGHTS — Police released more details on the case of a man charged in the July death of 19-year-old Angelica Santiago.
Matthew Stoddard, 22, of Copperas Cove, was charged Thursday with the murder of his girlfriend.
When police first arrived at the Harker Heights apartment where Santiago and Stoddard lived, “early assertions” were that the gunshot wound that Santiago died from was self-inflicted, according to the release. However, when investigators spoke with doctors completing an autopsy at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas, it was believed as early as August that Santiago did not commit suicide.
“Doctors stated that they felt 100 percent comfortable naming manner of death a homicide,” Sgt. Steve Miller, the Harker Heights Police Department spokesman, said Tuesday.
Stoddard is the son of a local police officer, who works for another department, not HHPD.
Stoddard was questioned by Harker Heights police immediately after Santiago was found, Miller said. However, he was not the only witness, and he was released after being questioned while other people were brought in. Miller would not confirm whether there were other people at the apartment when the gun was fired, and couldn’t say how many people were questioned. However, he did confirm that “there were other people that were involved in the activity of the day.”
Miller said he couldn’t speculate on whether Stoddard’s knowledge about law enforcement led him to say Santiago’s death was suicide. Stoddard initially told police he was in a bathroom with Santiago when she grabbed a gun and shot herself. Miller also said the fact that Stoddard’s father is a police officer had no effect on the investigation. “It has no bearing on it,” he said. “We pursued the truth, we found the truth, and we brought him in.”
HHPD received the initial autopsy report in August, then later received medical records for a blood examination through a subpoena.