In 2016, 58-year-old Fausto Hernandez, from Texas, was working in Middle Tennessee on a construction project, while staying with his daughter in Murfreesboro.
“This was just a temporary job,” said Sgt. James Abbott, supervisor over Crimes Against Persons for the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Sgt. Abbott explained the company Hernandez worked for was out of Texas, “The individual had asked him ‘hey, can you come up here to Tennessee?’ And of course, Mr. Hernandez knew that he had a daughter up here already, so he was thinking, ‘well this would be a good time for me to go up there and work and also be able to spend time with my daughter.’”
At night, Hernandez frequently stepped away to call his wife. A Family Video, tobacco & beer store, and a Marco’s Pizza was close to his daughter’s house. Sgt. Abbott said before calling his wife, Hernandez stopped at the tobacco & beer store on East Northfield Boulevard July 16, 2016. A place he was well-liked.
“A lot of times some of the kids from the neighborhood might come over and they might not have enough money, you know they might be 10 or 15, 20 cents or a dollar short on what they wanted to buy. Mr. Hernandez would cover it for them,” Sgt. Abbott said. “So, this was not some man that was just a mean person or would have enemies.”
Despite his kindness, Hernandez was the target of a violent crime that ended his life that evening.
“He was sitting on the rock out there behind Marco’s Pizza, where he would normally sit and talk to his wife on the phone,” Sgt. Abbott said. “After hanging up with her, she stated that he almost immediately called her back, which was very unusual. So, she answered the phone and she could not hear anyone but what sounded like a deep voice, African American male. And she said it sounded like they were arguing, and she couldn’t really tell anything else.” Sgt. Abbott added the phone went dead.
Police believe that call was a pocket dial made by Hernandez. Unfortunately, they would never get the chance to ask him about the suspect again.
“Mr. Hernandez was found laying beside the rock, shot one time. He was transported to Vanderbilt hospital where he passed away during surgery,” Sgt. Abbott said.
Detectives have gone to great lengths to try and find the killer. They have watched surrounding surveillance footage, and although no cameras were pointed on the rock directly, they have talked to every driver who came and went from Marco’s Pizza.
Detectives believe Hernandez’ killer was on foot, and they have narrowed down the time when he was shot.
They said two juveniles saw Hernandez on their way into Marco’s Pizza and found him shot when they walked out.
“I mean we are talking probably seconds that the person did it and probably just a couple of minutes in between the last individuals to see Mr. Hernandez alive, or the last time his wife talked to him, before these young people found him,” Sgt. Abbott said.
Investigators have identified a person of interest in the case who lived nearby.
“That individual is incarcerated at the Tennessee Department of Corrections, but we know that he was living in that area at the time and that he possessed a firearm – at least at some point, that was of similar caliber and make and model that the individual, Mr. Hernandez, was shot with,” Sgt. Abbott said.
Interviewing that individual has been difficult with recent COVID-19 restrictions. However, they hope to question him soon.
In the meantime, Sgt. Abbott said there’s one reason this murder is particularly troublesome.
“Most likely [this was] just a random robbery that’s just one of those where someone was probably trying to rob him or just randomly,” Sgt. Abbott said. “And that’s really the scary kind is that when we talk about these type of homicides, is the random ones.”
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Murfreesboro Police Criminal Investigations Division at 615-893-2717. Tips can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.