- The person of interest who became the prime suspect in Tuesday's fatal shooting of a 25-year-old Deltona man has been charged with first-degree murder.
Gregory Bender, 50, of Windermere is in custody at the Orange County Jail where he was booked at around 7 AM Thursday for the murder of Patrick De La Cerda.
Volusia County Sheriff's detectives responded to 2525 Howland Blvd. at around 11:35 AM on Tuesday after De La Cerda was found shot to death in his home. It didn't take long for the investigation to lead to Bender, who, according to VCSO, was reportedly jealous of De La Cerda and the woman he was dating. Bender had apparently threatened both of them in the past.
VCSO says De La Cerda's girlfriend was granted an injunction for protection against Bender in December of 2017. The Orange County Sheriff's Office served that injunction to Bender. De La Cerda wasn't granted an injunction, but he did take steps to protect himself. VCSO says he set up security measures around his home, including a gate and surveillance cameras.
De La Cerda's girlfriend told detectives that on Tuesday morning, the day of the murder, she got several phone calls from Bender while she was at work. She didn't answer but she was worried so she tried to call De La Cerda, but he didn't answer. She left work to check on him and when she got to his home he had already been shot and killed.
The victim's father reported that he'd gotten a strange phone call early Tuesday from an unknown number. The man who called said that he was outside the gate and that he had a package to deliver to De La Cerda. The father tried to contact De La Cerda to let him know, but he never heard back from his son. The father told detectives that he had heard a previous voicemail recording from Bender and he thinks the man who called him on Tuesday was Bender.
Detectives also interviewed a woman who said she found a blue spiral notebook in Bender's Windermere home which had a detailed plan to kill De La Cerda written in it. The plan mentioned using a package delivery to open the gate.
After getting a warrant and searching Bender's home, detectives found that plan and ammunition that matched what was found at the scene of the murder. Detectives also found several firearms in the house.
For earlier reporting, click here
(Bender's mugshot courtesy VCSO)
Photo courtesy Fer Gregory and Shutterstock.com.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.