U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of California
(619) 557-5610
December 23, 2015

Imperial Beach Couple Indicted in Murder of Texas Man

SAN DIEGO—David Enrique Meza and his girlfriend, Taylor Marie Langston, were arrested at their Imperial Beach apartment this morning based on a federal grand jury indictment charging them in the fatal stabbing of Meza’s boyfriend.

According to a search warrant affidavit, the boyfriend—wealthy Texas retiree Jake Clyde Merendino—was stabbed numerous times in the early morning hours of May 2, 2015. His body was found in a ravine next to the highway between Rosarito and Ensenada, Mexico, in an area known as Los Arenales.

Meza, 25, and Merendino, 52, met online in 2013 and were involved in a romantic relationship. At the same time, Meza was also involved in a long-term romantic relationship with Langston, a Chula Vista High graduate who was pregnant with his child at the time of the murder.

Merendino’s death came a day after he’d closed escrow on a luxury oceanfront condo in Baja California, Mexico. Within days of the murder, Meza produced a handwritten will that made him sole heir to Merendino’s estate.

In the indictment, unsealed today, Meza is charged with one count of Interstate or Foreign Domestic Violence Resulting in Murder; both Meza and Langston are charged with one count of Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice; and Langston is charged with one count of Obstruction of Justice and one count of Making a False Statement to a Federal Officer.

They are scheduled to make their first appearances in federal court tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo.

According to the search warrant affidavit, Meza and Merendino rented a car at a Spring Valley agency on April 29, 2015, and drove across the border to Mexico to close the deal on the $300,000 condo at Palacio del Mar, an upscale development between Rosarito and Ensenada. They then crossed back into the U.S. later that afternoon and checked into the Hercor Hotel in Chula Vista.

A few days later, on May 1, Meza and Merendino returned to Baja, this time with Merendino driving his Range Rover and Meza following on a motorcycle that was a 2014 Christmas gift from the victim, the affidavit said. The new condo was not yet ready for occupancy, so they checked in to a room at Bobby’s by the Sea hotel nearby.

Merendino went down to the lobby between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to open a bottle of wine. Then about 10:30 p.m., a motorcycle was heard leaving the hotel parking lot, and the suspect was seen on a border camera entering the U.S. about 11 p.m., according to the affidavit.

Merendino was last seen alive about 1 a.m. on May 2, when he told hotel security that he was leaving to help a friend stranded on the road. His body was found at 3:33 a.m. At 3:57 a.m. Meza crossed into the United States on his motorcycle; Langston crossed into the U.S. 25 minutes later, at 4:22 a.m. in a black SUV with no license plates.

At 7 p.m. the same day, Meza and Langston returned to the Bobby’s by the Sea hotel in the black SUV without license plates. Meza told hotel staff he was there to pick up his personal items from the room he’d shared with Merendino.

After the slaying, one of the victim’s longtime attorney friends in Texas, who had drawn up Merendino’s 1998 will, filed probate paperwork on May 8 in Galveston, Texas. On May 17, Meza, through his lawyers, contested the 1998 will and filed the handwritten will on letterhead from the Hercor Hotel in Chula Vista, which he claimed was executed by Merendino on December 21, 2014. That document named Meza sole beneficiary of Merendino’s estate.

DEFENDANT

  • David Enrique Meza
  • Age: 25
  • Taylor Marie Langston
  • Age:20

Case Number: 15CR3175-JM

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

  • Count One
  • Meza
  • Interstate or Foreign Domestic Violence Resulting in Murder, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 2261 (a) (1).
  • Maximum Penalty: life imprisonment
  • Count Two
  • Meza and Langston
  • Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512 (k).
  • Maximum Penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment
  • Count Three
  • Langston
  • Obstruction of Justice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512 (c) (2)
  • Maximum Penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment
  • Count Four
  • False Statement to Federal Officer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
  • Maximum Penalty: five years’ imprisonment

AGENCY

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
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