Calif. couple accused in gruesome torture, murder of Vietnam War veteran

HANFORD, Calif. -- Calling it calculated, tragic and heartbreaking, Hanford Police Captain Karl Anderson said that this kind of crime just doesn't happen in their community.

Anderson spoke at a news conference Monday about the gruesome torture and murder of a Vietnam War veteran and retired contractor at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

WATCH: Hanford Police news conference on murder

Police revealed new details about the case Monday, including the relationship between the victim and suspects.

They said 68-year-old Kenneth Coyle met Stacie Mendoza at a Hanford restaurant, where she was a waitress.

They became friends, but in recent weeks, Mendoza began to gain access to his personal financial information.

"We think she manipulated that relationship to gain his trust and defraud him of money," Anderson said.

In an attempt to get even more personal information from him, Hanford police said Stacie and her husband, Jose Mendoza, allegedly went to Coyle's house on April 5 or 6, where they restrained, beat,and ultimately killed him.

Police said they believe he died of blunt force trauma and suffocation. An autopsy is scheduled for later this week.

On April 7 or 8, police said the Mendozas and their three children drove a U-Haul to rural Madera County, where they burned Coyle's body.

Last week, police said the Mendoza's went back to Coyle's home to steal more of his things. But they were confronted by property management, who called the police.

They were suspicious of the Mendoza's claim that Coyle had been hurt and was recovering at a care home in northern California.

"(Property management employees) were pivotal, without a doubt," Anderson said. "Good people recognizing when something's not right and taking the time to contact law enforcement."

Police tracked Coyle's cell phone to the suspects' Fresno home. Investigators arrested them at a Denny's near Los Angeles International Airport.

Jose had Coyle's credit card and a ticket to El Salvador, where he's from.

The suspects' three children are in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Jose and Stacie Mendoza are being held without bail, charged with first-degree murder and a long list of other charges.
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