Suspects charged with murder, knew Santiago Zapata

7:21 PM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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  • Maceo Scott
  • Timothy Miller

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM/AP) -- Two Grand Rapids men are facing murder charges in connection with the death of an advisor at Grand Valley State University.

24-year old Timothy Miller and 24-year old Maceo Scott are accused of stabbing 50-year old Santiago Zapata at his home on the city's NW side.

Thursday afternoon, Scott and Miller were arraigned on felony murder and armed robbery charges. They could both face up to life in prison without parole.

The men were ordered jailed without bond. Their preliminary examination is Oct. 15 on first-degree murder and robbery charges. The Kent County sheriff's department couldn't say if they have lawyers.

Police say the suspects both admit robbing Zapata, but each blames the other for killing him.

Zapata's sister, Rebecca Guererro, spoke about her brother's murder. "I don't understand what these individuals thought he owned or possessed that would warrant doing this heinous act to him."

Investigators say Zapata was stabbed to death during a robbery inside his home on Myrtle Street on September 20. Five days later, when Zapata failed to show up to his job as an advisor at GVSU, his friends asked Grand Rapids police to check on him.

"I just miss him so much. He was a one-of-a-kind. The community misses him, friends, he didn't deserve this, nobody deserves this."

Geurerro says her brother was always trying to help disadvantaged youth. A friend of one of the suspects, who didn't want to be identified, says Zapata was a mentor to Timothy or "TJ" Miller when he was a teenager. She doesn't think he's capable of murder.

Geurroro says she was always concerned about her brother's willingness to help.

"It was my concern... I told him to be careful."

Zapata came from a family of migrant workers. He and his sister were the first in their family to graduate from college. His sister says he will be missed. "Very proud of my brother. We all are. He did a lot more than we'll ever know."

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