WYLIE -- Ivan Mejia, the 17-year-old murder victim allegedly killed by two Wylie East classmates, was placed in a headlock and choked to death, according to a juvenile probation officer who testified in the suspects' first court appearance Monday.
The officer, who is familiar with the case, testified that the murder indicated a "significant amount of planning," and they had reason to believe the planning dates back to March 3. She said the suspects tied a sock around the victim's mouth and held his nose as they choked him to death.
The 16-year-old suspects, Brenden Bridges and Adam Staup, were arrested Saturday after they allegedly ran from police while in a wooded area near Firewheel Mall. Police waited by the boys' vehicle, and when they returned they told officers they were "burying a body."
Mejia's body was found in a creek when officers searched of the area. Police said Sunday he was killed directly behind Wylie East High School, where all three teens were students. The suspects are juniors, and Mejia was a senior.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said Daniel Romero, who grew up with Mejia at their community church. “I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe how someone would do that to someone like him.”
The suspects then allegedly brought the body to where they were found in Garland.
“All the hairs stood up on my body. I didn’t know what to do,” said Wylie East mother Kelly Martin, describing the moment she found out what happened. Martin lives yards away from where police say the crime occurred. The whole thing is taking a toll.
“[It was] on my street, kids we know,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”
The probation officer also indicated a possible motive for the first time, saying one of the suspects was involved with the same girl as the victim, Mejia.
There was a sign asking for privacy taped up on the front door of the Mejia family home Monday.
Neighbor Jana Thomas tells News 8 she saw Ivan just a couple days before he was killed. She called him a nice boy who helped her dad take care of their puppies.
“We’re very upset about it,” Thomas said.
Mejia had planned to join the Marines.
Bridges and Staup were charged with 1st Degree Murder for the crime, and are being held at the Collin County Juvenile Detention Center.
“I couldn’t really see them doing that, and just knowing they did, that put me in shock,” Megan Jenkins said.
Adam Staup's family attended the hearing Monday. The suspect's brother told News 8 "he’s a good kid that made one big mistake.”
This is the second time in two years Wylie police have found themselves investigating a teenager’s death at the hands of other teens.
Nahum Martinez, a Wylie East High School track-and-field runner, was shot in the head on March 31, 2012 by a juvenile suspect. That suspect pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in June 2013.
“It affects the entire community, the school, the police department, the city,” said Sgt. Donna Valdepena of the Wylie police.
News 8 has chosen to reveal the names of the juvenile suspects due to the premeditated and serious nature of the crime.