The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 13, 2012

Deputies: Suspect in cookout slaying remains at large

PIERCE CITY, Mo. — Lawrence County authorities continued searching Monday for a man suspected of fatally shooting his sister’s ex-boyfriend at a weekend cookout near Pierce City.

Martin Meza, 28, is accused of shooting Abel Ibarra, 45, multiple times during an argument at a cookout Saturday night in Meza’s backyard at 21950 County Road 1063. A warrant issued Monday charges Meza with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies responded at 9:50 p.m. to a report of gunshots at the address about two to three miles northeast of Pierce City, and discovered a large amount of blood and other evidence. Food and beverages from a backyard cookout had been left on tables, but no one remained at the residence.

After locating members of Ibarra’s family, the Sheriff’s Department learned that he was missing and issued an endangered person alert. Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Madewell said the family reported finding Ibarra’s body about 9 a.m. Sunday in some woods along Farm Road 2200, two miles north of Meza’s home.

Ibarra had been shot several times in the chest and at least once in the head, according to an affidavit that became available Monday with the filing of the murder charge against Meza.

The affidavit states that a witness told investigators that he and about five or six other people were at Meza’s home for a cookout when Ibarra, a former boyfriend of one of Meza’s sisters, showed up. Meza spotted Ibarra and commented that he didn’t want him there and that he was going to run him off, the witness told investigators.

The witness said the two men walked across the yard together and began arguing near some chicken coops. As Ibarra started back across the yard alone toward the vehicles parked at the residence, Meza shot him in the back, and Ibarra fell to the ground, the witness said, according to the affidavit.

Meza then walked up to Ibarra and shot him three or four more times, the witness told investigators. But the account of the witness remains unclear as to the number of shots. The affidavit states that he went on to tell investigators that it “took one shot to take (Ibarra) down” and five more shots “when he was on the ground.”

The witness told investigators that everyone at the cookout ran when the shots were fired. The witness said he and his friend were the last to leave because their vehicle was blocked by the vehicles of the others.

Meza approached them before they could get away and asked for their help in loading the victim’s body into a vehicle, the witness told investigators. When they refused, Meza reportedly waved his pistol at them and ordered them to leave.

The affidavit states that Meza’s sister, the former girlfriend of the victim, told investigators that a niece told her that Ibarra and her brother had an argument. She said a sister then contacted her and told her that their brother had killed Ibarra. The affidavit states that she went to her brother’s home about 10:30 p.m. Saturday to find out what happened, but no one was there except an uncle.

The uncle told her that Ibarra was dead. She told investigators that the uncle said Meza shot Ibarra twice, and when Ibarra begged for help, he shot him six more times.

The sister is said to have told investigators that she received a call from her brother shortly before noon Sunday, and he told her he was sorry. She asked him where Ibarra was, and he said he would tell her later, according to the affidavit.

The Globe’s efforts to reach individuals named in the affidavit were unsuccessful Monday.

Madewell said an autopsy was being conducted Monday, and investigators were still trying to determine how many times the victim was shot and the location of his wounds. He declined to comment on all matters related to motive in the case and the argument between the two men.


MARTIN MEZA, the suspect in a homicide over the weekend near Pierce City, should be considered armed and dangerous, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department. Authorities said they are asking that anyone with information about his whereabouts call 911 or the sheriff’s office at 417-466-2131.

THE SUSPECT also has been known to go by the names Carlos A. Gonzalez and Christian A. Olmeda-Gonzalez, authorities said.

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