By Peter D'Oench

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HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade homicide investigators have made an arrest in connection with the discovery of a body in the trunk of a car.

Miami-Dade Police confirm Justin Earnshaw, 38, was arrested shortly before 8:00 a.m. Friday morning in the death of 39-year-old Jose Munoz, of Key Largo.

Munoz’s only sibling—-his brother—-told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that his brother was a hard worker who had two jobs. He said he was baffled by the crime and did not know the suspect in this case.

Friends of the victim said they were stunned by this crime.

“I knew him since grade school,” said Leah Hunter of Florida City. “He was someone I always connected with and talk to a lot. I was always with him and we hung out every day. It is crazy. It is insane. I did not know until just now. I am devastated. I just spoke with his mother in Key Largo and she is devastated too.”

Another friend, Elton Passmore, told D’Oench, “I am hurt by it. I just had a conversation with him and he was a good person. This is a hard pill to swallow.”

“He was a good guy who liked to play video games and he didn’t bother anybody,” said Passmore. “He just liked to hang out on the balcony at the Country Lodge here on Krome Avenue and speak to everybody. He was always smiling.”

Friends said Munoz would alternate his time between his mother and brother’s home in Key Largo and the Country Lodge because of his two jobs.

Earnshaw is charged with 2nd degree murder, four counts of cocaine possession, and giving police a false name during questioning, according to court records. The records also show he was out on bond on a previous grand theft charge.

Records also showed that Munoz had been on probation before and had been arrested on charges including child abuse, possession of a controlled substance and possession of cocaine and aggravated assault with a weapon and battery. Friends said he was trying to turn his life around.

Hunter said, “Nobody deserves anything like that. I don’t know if he owed some money or something like that. This was crazy. He didn’t deserve that.”

For several hours on Friday, Miami-Dade Police searched for clues and evidence at the Budget Host Inn right next to the County Lodge on Krome Avenue. That is where MUNOZ’S friends said Earnshaw lived. Police have not said where the crime happened but detectives spoke to the manager about obtaining surveillance tape from him.

A CBS4 Crew was at the Budget Host Inn as a section of it was sealed off with yellow crime scene tape. The crew was told to leave the property and managers there said they could not discuss the case.

Earnshaw appeared in bond court where he was held without bond on the charge of 2nd degree. A judge found probable cause for that charge against him.

Police say they received a call from a frantic man who said he located his missing brother’s white Honda Accord in the parking lot of the Walmart at 13600 SW 288th Street in Homestead on Thursday.

The man told police he had been desperately trying to find his brother Jose Munoz and reported him missing on Tuesday.

When three people returned to the vehicle, police moved in and detained them.

Police also searched the car and discovered Munoz’s body, wrapped in plastic, in the trunk of the car.

Earnshaw, police say, confessed to the murder. The other two people detained were released.

According to the arrest report, Earnshaw told police he rented the car from Munoz, aka ‘Spooky,’ who was staying in a Florida City hotel called the Country Lodge.

Earnshaw said, “He became irate with the victim while they were in a hotel room. He punched the victim several times in the face and neck and began to choke the victim with his hands until he was no longer breathing,” states the report. The report states he “carried the victim into the bathtub inside the hotel room. Then he obtained a telephone cord and again strangled the victim to make sure he was deceased. Lastly, he wrapped the victim in hotel bed sheets and a plastic bag and placed him in the trunk of the vehicle.”

He remained locked up Friday at the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center and was denied bond.

Peter D'Oench


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