Perez was arrested on Wednesday, after confessing the murder to his family, police said.
According to court documents, Jerssen Perez was waiting outside the home of his victim at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday to execute a revenge plot he had allegedly been planning for weeks.
His target, 19-year-old Oscar Ortega, was reportedly dating Perez’s ex-girlfriend.
Police said that when Ortega exited his home, Jerssen Perez kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him into a car, driving north of the city into the Arizona desert. When Ortega texted his girlfriend from the car to tell her he had been kidnapped, Perez reportedly tried to take his phone away. Then, according to police, he shot the man multiple times point-blank.
Jerssen Perez allegedly continued to drive into the desert, where he dumped Ortega’s body some 25 miles north of the city.
Then, authorities said, the 18-year-old collected the evidence — including Ortega’s bloody clothing and the shell casings from his gun — stuffing the incriminating materials into a backpack he hid in a bush back in Glendale.
The girlfriend, who has not been identified by police, notified Oscar Ortega’s family, who phoned police to report the kidnapping at 8 a.m.
Investigators said that Jerssen Perez returned home with blood stains on his clothes and confessed the murder to his family members, giving them the murder weapon.
According to court documents, the Perez family called the police and reported Jerssen’s confession, turning over the firearm and the blood-stained clothing.
Police say Jerssen Perez Planned the Crime
In custody, authorities said Perez told them he had “been thinking about killing the victim for a month.”
“The hard part I think for everyone to imagine is just that pre-meditation,” said Phoneix police sergeant Andy Williams. “I mean the brutality of it, to kidnap somebody and murder them while they sit next to you in a car.”
Perez was charged with first-degree premeditated murder, kidnapping, abandoning and concealing a body, and tampering with evidence.
The 18-year-old appeared before a judge on Thursday for his arraignment. Lawyers for the accused killer argued for leniency, telling the judge that Jerssen Perez had no prior criminal charges, no history of violence, was gainfully employed at Honeywell, and that he had helped the Ortega family “provide a proper burial for their son” by leading investigators to the body.
“His family secured evidence for the state. They did not attempt to conceal anything. Secondly, when he was arrested, he actually led them to evidence that would help their case,” said his lawyer.
The judge, apparently unconvinced, set bail at $1 million. Perez is scheduled to be back in court on Oct. 14.
Remembering the Victim
Oscar Ortega’s loved ones assembled a memorial for the slain 19-year-old on Thursday, decorating his truck with flowers and personal affects. Neither his grieving family nor the girlfriend that connected the two men have made a public statement since Wednesday’s events.
Friends of Ortega also expressed condolences on Facebook. “He had such a long life ahead of him,” said one.
“You didn’t deserve this — nobody does,” wrote another. “Gone too soon.”
A GoFundMe page set up to cover funeral costs surpassed its $10,000 goal less than 24 after being posted.
“To those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Oscar, you know that he was a hard-working and kind-hearted person,” the page reads. “He loved his family and friends and was a person you could always count on.”