‘This was a vicious beatdown.’ Suspect arraigned in Harbor Point death investigation

One of two people arrested in connection to a Stamford man’s death in Harbor Point was arraigned in Stamford Superior Court Monday for what the prosecution called “a vicious beatdown.”
On Saturday, police took Juan Carlos Perez-Perez, 25, and a 17-year-old into custody on assault charges, three days after Modesto Santiago-Gomez, 20, was found lying on his back in the grass along the path that connects Woodland Avenue and Walter Wheeler Drive. Police told News 12 a person walking their dog came upon Santiago-Gomez around 2 a.m. Wednesday and called 911. Medics on scene pronounced him dead. There was still a large amount of blood on the ground and blood spatter on the fence the next day.
“Your honor, there will be further charges coming against the defendant,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Moran in court. “The defendant is alleged with the co-defendant to have had some animosity with the victim that they decided to act on that evening, Your honor, and spent approximately 20-25 minutes assaulting the victim. They were both aware that he was at a minimum unconscious when they left him.”
Police told News 12 Perez-Perez and the minor suspect confessed to getting into a physical fight with the victim. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner initially ruled Santiago-Gomez’s cause of death and manner of death pending further investigation. But on Monday police said an update and conclusion from the OCME should be released shortly based on the suspects’ admissions.
“They knew each other, and it was in regard to a prior altercation between them,” said Sgt. Jennifer Lynch, who declined to go into detail about the issue.
Police credited the South End community with helping them close out this case so quickly.
“We dealt with a lot of commercial businesses as well as residences, and they were very forthcoming, and their help with their surveillance video and Ring cameras was a major part of us solving this investigation,” explained Lt. Douglas Deiso.
“We were able to back-track the victims' movements, which led to the development of these two suspects involved, and the video evidence that was collected also helped us track their movements to find out ultimately where they were staying,” Lynch added.
According to the arrest warrant for Perez-Perez, the suspects and Santiago-Gomez were at the Peruvian Club before the incident and seen on camera leaving together around 12:30 a.m., heading toward where the victim was later discovered. The warrant said Santiago-Gomez never reappeared on camera again, but the two suspects did without him several hundred feet from the alleged crime scene. The warrant also said the hat Perez-Perez was wearing that night was found by investigators near the body.
“I am extremely proud of the investigators with all the help form the patrol division and again the public. They were a major piece of this investigation with their cooperation,” Deiso said.
Police said they’ve been in contact with Santiago-Gomez’s family in Guatemala and extend their condolences on his tragic death.
The judge set bond for Perez-Perez at $1 million and ruled that he can only post bond after a hearing to determine nonfinancial conditions. He’s due back in court Jan. 10.