A search warrant released by court officials Friday revealed new details about the death of a south Charlotte woman whose body was found in the trunk of her car at a Ballantyne shopping center on Tuesday.
The day before her husband reported her missing, Nia Karras Hantzopoulos was seen at about 11 a.m. on Dec. 16 with suspect Humberto Alvarez Mendoza at the Goodwill store in the 10100 block of Johnston Road in Pineville, according to the affidavit.
The two remained in the store for about 10 minutes before they left at the same time, Charlotte-Mecklenburg homicide Detective M.R. Grande said in the affidavit, which cites video surveillance and witnesses.
On Monday, Mendoza’s roommate told police that Mendoza asked him at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 to carry something from their apartment in the 10000 block of Oak Run Drive. That’s 1.1 miles from the Goodwill store.
“They went outside to a vehicle that was backed into a parking space about 15 feet from the apartment, and he helped Mendoza load a heavy object wrapped in a white sheet in the trunk of the vehicle,” Grande said in the affidavit. Mendoza’s roommate said Mendoza told him the object was a deer, but the roommate told police that his experience with deer hunting “made him think the object was too heavy and not shaped like a deer.”
The roommate also knew Mendoza, 44, did not have a vehicle, so he wrote down the vehicle’s tag number and its color, make and model, a silver Toyota Avalon, the affidavit says.
Mendoza left in the vehicle, and the roommate said he didn’t see him again until Dec. 21. While Mendoza was away from the apartment, the roommate saw what appeared to be a blood stain in the carpet in Mendoza’s bedroom, according to the affidavit.
When the roommate returned from work on the afternoon of Dec. 21, “he said Mendoza was there and was going in and out of the apartment,” the affidavit says. “He did not see the vehicle, and he said the carpet appeared to have been cleaned. Mendoza then left, and the (roommate) had not seen him since.”
On Tuesday, the car was found in the 13900 block of Conlan Circle in Ballantyne. Family members told WSOC-TV that Hantzopoulos was on her way to sell jewelry at a flea market in Fort Mill when she went missing.
At Mendoza’s apartment, police seized carpet and padding, clothes, bed linens, a pillow, pay stub, duct tape, Ajax bleach, a shopping bag and swabs, according to the affidavit.
The medical examiner is still determining how Hantzopoulos died, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have issued a warrant for Mendoza’s arrest on a charge of murder. Anyone who sees or has information about Mendoza should call 911 immediately.