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Reading police ID Jose Espinoza-Diaz as suspect in deadly stabbing of Wilberto Rojas

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 23 2013 10:55:07 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2013 10:55:29 PM CDT

Reading murder suspect went to same barber as victim

READING, Pa. -

Police on the ground and in the air spent more than an hour Tuesday scouring an area of Reading for the suspect in the deadly stabbing of a 15-year-old boy.

City officers and state troopers surrounded a wooded area near North 6th and Spring streets in search of Jose Espinoza-Diaz after they received reports of him being in the area again.

A state police helicopter helped in the search from the air, while police dogs worked the ground. In the end, the intense manhunt turned up nothing.

Police obtained a warrant Tuesday for the arrest of Espinoza-Diaz on charges of first and third degree murder and related offenses.

Espinoza-Diaz, 39, of Reading, approached a group of teens at Church and Douglass streets last Friday evening and stabbed Wilberto Rojas in the neck, police said.

Rojas, 15, died of the injury as paramedics were transporting him to the trauma center at Reading Hospital, police said.

A witness to the stabbing chased Espinoza-Diaz on foot, but he eventually lost sight of the suspect in the 500 block of Windsor Street, according to court documents.

A short time later, police said they found Espinoza-Diaz lying in a grassy area south of the Price Rite store on Railroad Road, but he was not taken into custody.

The witness who gave chase subsequently identified Espinoza-Diaz as the man who stabbed Rojas, according to court documents.

An officer returned Sunday evening to the area where Espinoza-Diaz was found and, within what would have been the suspect's arm's reach, located a folding knife beneath the thick grass.

Espinoza-Diaz is described as a Hispanic man with black hair and brown eyes who stands 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds.

Crime Alert Berks County is offering a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to Espinoza-Diaz's arrest. The toll-free number to call is 877-373-9913.

Investigators have still not identified a motive for the homicide, despite putting out a public plea Monday for more information about the case.