Second person charged with murder in death of 69-year-old man found in cemetery near NC State

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Friend of man left for dead in Raleigh cemetery anxious for answers
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The longtime friend of a man who died after being found in a Raleigh cemetery over the weekend is anxious for answers.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A second person has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a man who was found injured at a cemetery near NC State University's campus last week.

Johnathan Daniel Villanueva-Galer, 19, was arrested and taken to the Wake County Detention Center.

A 16-year-old who police believe was involved was also taken into custody. Juvenile petitions have been obtained for that teen, police said.

Maria Elizabeth Pena-Echeverria, 18, was arrested Saturday night in the death of 69-year-old James Lacy Taylor.

Maria Elizabeth Pena-Echeverria, 18
Courtesy of Raleigh Police Department

She was charged with murder.

Taylor was found seriously injured in Mt. Olivet Cemetery Friday night after someone called 911 and reported that he saw three people -- a woman and two males -- flee the area traveling toward Reedy Creek Road. The caller also said he found clothes and blood on the ground.

Taylor was taken to the hospital and later died.

NC State first told students of the incident just before 10:40 p.m. on Friday. The safety alert said that Raleigh officers told University Police a homicide happened in the cemetery, which is adjacent to Schenck Forest.

David Hogue met Taylor while they were flying and designing radio controlled airplanes and knew him for 20 to 25 years.

"He simply, quite literally would give you the shirt off his back," said Hogue. "One of the nicest people I've ever met in the hobby or outside the hobby for that matter."

Hogue is anxiously awaiting the details in Taylor's murder.

"I've devastated and this man would not hurt a fly and for something like this to have happened--it's heartbreaking," said Hogue. "I just want to know what happened. Obviously we can't change what happened."

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