Charlotte mystery victim identified, arrest made

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Wednesday they have learned the name of a murder victim whose identity had perplexed detectives for nearly two weeks, and they announced an arrest in the case.

Bicyclist Noell Navarro Hernandez, 22, was shot June 6 on Old Pineville Road in south Charlotte.

Michael Javier Zelaya, 26, was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder, police said.

CMPD detectives said they got a breakthrough in the case when they heard from a relative of the victim. That relative lives in the Houston area, police said.

Since the night of the shooting, police had been asking for the public’s help in identifying the victim. They described the man as a Latino male, 16 to 20 years old. He was riding a bicycle about 10:45 p.m. in the 6400 block of Old Pineville Road, near Archdale Drive, when he was shot to death.

On June 9, police announced they had arrested Christian Giovanni Pena, 18, for his involvement in the case. Pena, however, was charged with accessory after the fact.

Detectives said information they gathered during the investigation led them to Zelaya, who was arrested Tuesday without incident. After being questioned by detectives, Zelaya was charged.

Police have not said what the motive might have been. Mecklenburg County records show no previous arrests for Zelaya.

Detectives ask that anyone with information in the case contact them at 704-432-TIPS. Information also can be left with Crime Stoppers, 704-334-1600.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer