LEE COUNTY — A Lee County man is in custody and his alleged accomplice is being sought for a recent double homicide in Bonita Springs.
Dustin James McIntyre, 21, was arrested Thursday on two counts of first degree murder in the slayings of Daniel Leonor, 24, and Israel Ponce, 20. The other suspect, Lisandro Resendiz, 21, is wanted on the same charges. Resendiz is believed to be in south Lee County.
The bodies of Leonor and Ponce were found on Aug. 1 inside a burning vehicle on a rural Lee County road, just east of Bonita Springs. A witness told dispatchers he heard gunshots before discovering the vehicle.
Detectives now say the bodies were dumped after the victims were beat and asphyxiated to death following an attack at a Bonita Springs home. McIntyre’s arrest report suggests a dispute over drug turf may have fueled the attack.
According to a booking report, Leonor and Ponce traveled together to a home on Bridgeport Lane to sell cocaine to McIntyre, also known as ‘Butch,’ and Resendiz, who goes by ‘Dro.’ Ponce stayed in the vehicle, Leonor’s Jeep Cherokee, as his friend went inside.
Upon entering the home, Leonor was jumped by three people — McIntyre, Resendiz and a third person whose name is redacted in the report — and repeatedly kicked and punched until he fell to the floor, according to the report. When Leonor begged them to stop, McIntyre cursed at him and said, “239.” Leonor is originally from Homestead.
The men then told Ponce, who remained in the vehicle, that Leonor wanted to see him inside the home. Detectives say the men then jumped Ponce and tried strangling him with a ligature. While both men were unconscious, McIntyre held their arms as Resendiz stretched a plastic bag over their faces and held it tight, suffocating both, according to the report.
The two suspects and the third, unnamed person then placed the bodies in the Jeep, and McIntyre and Resendiz drove the bodies to the dirt road and set the vehicle ablaze, the report states.
The third, unnamed person is considered a witness in the case, Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Sheehan said. He said the case is still active.
McIntyre was arrested late Thursday morning at Edisto Lake Apartments in Fort Myers after detectives determined he was a suspect, Sheehan said.
He also said deputies are “actively, aggressively” searching for Resendiz, whose last known address was at the same Fort Myers apartment complex, but is believed to be in south Lee County.
“We believe he’s either in Bonita Springs or San Carlos Park,” Sheehan said. “We believe that due to the violent nature of the crime he’s dangerous and no one should engage him.” The agency declined to offer further comment.
At an Ocala Road home in San Carlos Park, a woman who identified herself as Resendiz’s sister said she hadn’t seen her brother since Monday. Investigators visited the home, she said, but she didn’t know where Resendiz was and that she couldn’t reach him by phone. She said she learned of his warrant from the news.
Thursday afternoon, crime scene technicians finished up work on the Bridgeport Lane home, where detectives say the slayings occurred. Neighbors said they never talked to tenants at the single-story beige home, but several recognized a picture of McIntyre. They said vehicles came and went from the property, and they said everyone left near the beginning of the month.
Landlord Victoria Velasco said she rented the property to a man named Ricardo until last month. He left to work in Georgia, Velasco said, and he told her one of his female friends would take over the lease.
When Velasco went to pick up the rent at the beginning of August, she said she found an unknown man in the unit who told her that he and Ricardo’s friend only had half the rent. The tenants moved out shortly after the visit, she said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (239)-477-1000 or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-780-TIPS.
Staff writer Elysa Batista contributed to this report.