Police in Myrtle Beach arrested a suspect in the killing of a south Charlotte woman whose body was found in the trunk of her car at a Ballantyne shopping center.
Humberto Alvarez Mendoza, 44, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Nia Karras Hantzopoulos. Her husband reported her missing on Dec. 17.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said they learned on Friday that Mendoza was in Myrtle Beach and apprehended him with help from South Carolina law enforcement. Police on Saturday provided no other details of the arrest, including when Mendoza will be extradited to Charlotte.
Mendoza remained jailed in Horry County, S.C., on Saturday on a fugitive from justice warrant, jail records show.
Hantzopoulos was seen at about 11 a.m. Dec. 16 with Mendoza at the Goodwill store in the 10100 block of Johnston Road in Pineville, according to a police search warrant 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. 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.”
Mendoza left in the car, 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, Hantzopoulos’ Toyota Avalon 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.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call police at 704-432-TIPS (8477) or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.