The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 26, 2012

Carthage police release name of homicide victim

By Susan Redden

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The name of a 43-year-old man whose body was found Wednesday in Spring River was released Thursday by Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan.

Dagnan identified the man as Mario Gonzalez. He said Gonzalez was the victim of a homicide, but he would not cite a specific cause of death.

An autopsy was to be conducted Thursday morning by the Boone County medical examiner in Columbia.

Gonzalez’s body was found about 9 a.m. Wednesday in the river near a homeless camp at the north edge of Carthage.

Dagnan said officials were not certain how long the man had been at the homeless camp or how long he had lived in Carthage.

While Gonzalez had “lots of friends and associates” in Carthage, he had no relatives in the community, which had complicated officers’ efforts in notifying next of kin, the chief said.

Members of the Tri-State Major Case Squad were called to help in the investigation, and Dagnan said officers are following up leads in and around Carthage and in Joplin.

“Some are back at the crime scene,” he said of squad members. “With our staff and the major case squad, we’ve got about 45 officers working the investigation.”

Gonzalez was arrested by Carthage police after a June 18, 2011, incident in which a woman was struck by a car that Gonzalez was driving. According to the police report, Gonzalez was making repairs to the vehicle. He got into it, started it and attempted to put it into reverse. Instead, he put the vehicle in drive and it went forward, striking a woman who was sitting in a chair in front of the vehicle. She was taken to Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital and treated for an injury to her toe. The incident happened at a residence 107 S. Garrison Ave., which police also listed as Gonzalez’s home address.

He was drinking at the time of the accident and was charged with felony assault with a vehicle. On Oct. 20, he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, and to misdemeanor assault. Associate Circuit Judge Richard Copeland sentenced him to a six-month suspended sentence and placed him on one year of probation for DWI. He also was fined $500, and ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment and to complete a victim-impact program.

On the assault conviction, he was sentenced to 360 days in jail, which was suspended, placed on one year of probation and ordered to have no further contact with the victim.

Girlfriend found body

THE BODY WAS DISCOVERED by Mario Gonzalez’s girlfriend, who also lived at the homeless camp located in a wooded area along Spring River and north of High Street in north Carthage, police said.